Sunday 17 November 2019

European air travellers risk 'chaos' in event of hard Brexit, IATA warns

Stock photo Photo: PA
Stock photo Photo: PA
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

European air travellers risk "chaos" in the event of a hard Brexit, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned this afternoon.

The association, which represents dozens of airlines around the world, said that the UK and European Union need to put contingency plans in place to make sure there’s uninterrupted air connectivity.

It pointed out that there are no fall-back agreements such as the World Trade Organisation framework available in a no-deal Brexit scenario for other sectors.

"Without any contingency planning being made transparent to the industry, the risks of not addressing these issues could mean chaos for travellers and interrupted supply chains," said IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.

"With less than six months to go, we have little more certainty than we did in June 2016," he added.

IATA has released a study it commissioned into the likely effects of Brexit on air travel.

A hard Brexit, without an agreement for a transition period, "is likely to lead to significant disruption to air services", it said.

Read more: Donald Tusk responds to Nigel Farage: 'Brexiteers are 100pc responsible for bringing back problem of Irish border'

“Moreover, the lack of transparency concerning any contingency planning for this scenario has left airlines completely in the dark as to what measures to take,” IATA warned.

Mr de Juniac said that the EU and UK have a responsibility to millions of citizens who depend on reliable air transport.

“The goal should be a comprehensive air services agreement that does not step backwards from the connectivity existing today,” he said.

“But with the possibility of a ‘no deal’ Brexit still on the table this late in the game, it is now essential that the EU and UK civil aviation authorities plan for contingency arrangements to maintain a minimum level of connectivity, which is vital for people and for business,” said Mr de Juniac.

He added: “This has to be one of the most important Brexit considerations. A backstop contingency plan to keep planes flying after March must be published, and quickly.”

He made his comments today as IATA predicted the number of global air passengers could double to 8.2 billion a year by 2037.

IATA warned that growth prospects for air transport, and the economic benefits driven by aviation, could be curtailed if protectionist measures are implemented by governments.

It predicts that the total number of air passengers within Europe will hit 1.9 billion in 2037

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