Friday 14 December 2018

No-deal Brexit could see UK ‘fall out’ aviation agreements ‘without a parachute’

Some 38% of all traffic from Irish airports was to the UK.

Dublin Airport managing director Vincent Harrison made the comments at a Brexit seminar on Thursday (Niall Carson/PA)
Dublin Airport managing director Vincent Harrison made the comments at a Brexit seminar on Thursday (Niall Carson/PA)

By Michelle Devane, Press Association  

A Dublin Airport boss has warned a no-deal Brexit scenario could lead to the UK “falling out” of aviation agreements “without a parachute”.

Managing director Vincent Harrison said the European Union had negotiated all of the bilateral arrangements between European countries in recent years.

“So technically if the UK leaves without a deal they fall out of that arrangement without a parachute,” he said.

Mr Harrison made the comments at a Dublin City University (DCU) Brexit Institute seminar being held at Grant Thornton offices on Thursday.

However, Mr Harrison said that new assurances this week that a reciprocal arrangement could be made between the UK and EU to ensure flights were not grounded in the event of a no-deal scenario were a source of optimism for those in the aviation industry.

Amid a draft Brexit agreement being reached this week between the EU and the UK trying to prevent a hard exit, the European Commission separately published a contingency plan of how flights could continue between the EU and UK.

Mr Harrison said: “We’ve probably got to a situation where that first, worst case scenario – instead of an ash cloud, we’ve a lack of paper keeping flights on the ground – that that’s been averted.

“But beyond that there’s considerable uncertainty.”

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Dublin to London is the busiest international route in Europe and second busiest in the world (Niall Carson/PA)

Aviation Regulation Commissioner Cathy Mannion said unless an aviation agreement was in place post-Brexit the UK carriers would not be able to benefit from any agreement entered into by Europe.

She said it could have a “very significant” impact on airlines and fights, depending on the airline concerned.

Ms Mannion said planning for the world post-Brexit was particularly important for Ireland because 38% of all traffic from Irish airports was to the UK.

For a third of all flights in Dublin’s case, and elsewhere in the country, that figure was 60%.

It compares to 12% for rest of Europe to the UK.

Attendees at the conference heard Ireland proportionally was much more affected as Dublin to London is the busiest international route in Europe and second busiest in the world.

DCU aviation lecturer Cathal Guiomard said aviation was burdened by an archaic set of international rules going back to end of the Second World War.

The default setting is that nobody can fly anywhere without the permission of the neighbouring government Cathal Guiomard, DCU aviation lecturer

“The default setting is that nobody can fly anywhere without the permission of the neighbouring government,” he said, adding that was why aviation agreements were so vital.

The former chancellor of Austria told attendees Brexit was a “lose-lose situation” for all concerned in Europe and in the UK.

Dr Wolfgang Schuessel added: “Nobody will win, nobody.

“We lose the perspective of the British… we lose the openness and the spirit of free trade.”

As Theresa May faced a difficult day in Westminster, Dr Schuessel paid tribute to the British Prime Minister’s resilience, saying it must have something to do with her “stubbornness”.

Dr Schuessel said: “[Brexit] is not easy. It’s remarkable that Theresa May came as far as she did.

“This was not self-evident. It has something to do with her stubbornness, and her energy, and her strength for this, and also her ambition to get a deal.”

He said a no-deal scenario would cause “dramatic problems” for all concerned, adding: “The Brits will learn how difficult it is to go.”

Press Association

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