EasyJet boss confident of post-Brexit airspace deal between Britain and EU
A director at budget airline easyJet said she is confident that a post-Brexit airspace deal can be reached between the EU and Britain - in light of the benefits to each economy.
Sophie Dekkers, the firm's UK country director, played down concerns that an airspace deal would hang in the balance once Britain leaves the European Union.
Current agreements allow operators to fly across the continent in a deregulated environment.
"The risk of reduced access is a technical problem, but I think it will be solved because it's in the interest of both parties."
She added: "There are a number of EU airlines that are lobbying from their side on it, so Air France, KLM and Lufthansa ... it's in their interest to have access to the UK market, too."
Ms Dekkers said that aviation should be given special status during Brexit negotiations, adding that the industry employs 220,000 people and contributes £12 billion to the UK economy.
"We would actually urge that aviation is looked at as a separate entity outside of the trade agreements because it's in both parties' interests.
"It's not an import or export, it's an enabler, so certainty we would emphasize that as an approach," she said.
EasyJet is currently in the process of establishing air operator certificates that allow the airline to separately operate in UK and EU jurisdictions, she explained.
"But what that won't enable is the UK-to-EU connectivity. So there does need to be a bespoke agreement to establish that connection between the two ... it's not covered by the WTO (World Trade Organisation) so we don't have a backup, a fall-back interest, really."
Ms Dekkers was speaking to the House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee on the future of services trade between the EU and the UK after Brexit.