Ryanair warns UK may have no EU flights unless Brexit deal is agreed
The UK could have no flights to the EU immediately following Brexit - at least temporarily - unless an aviation agreement is secured in the next year, Ryanair has warned.
The airline's chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, has said Ryanair could be forced to make "deep cuts" to its UK services if no accord is reached that will still give the UK the same, or at least similar, access to the EU that it now enjoys under the region's single aviation market.
Notice to quit the EU was delivered by the UK government to Brussels yesterday.
"It's become worrying that the UK Government seems to have no plan B to maintain Britain's liberalised air links with Europe, in the absence of remaining in the 'Open Skies' regime," said Mr Jacobs.
He pointed out that Ryanair, like other airlines, decides its operating schedule 12 months in advance.
That means that its summer 2019 schedule and fleet deployment will be finalised next year.
"The UK Government must respond to the airlines and our customers, and put aviation at the top of its agenda when it negotiates its Brexit deal with Brussels.
"Britain's airlines, airports and holidaymakers need a real and early solution for aviation, or risk Britain being cut off from Europe in March 2019," said Mr Jacobs.
Ryanair employs more than 3,000 UK staff and will carry more than 44 million passengers to and from British airports this year.
It said it is basing no additional aircraft this year at the 19 UK airports it operates from.
However, in January Ryanair inked a deal with Stansted owner Manchester Airports Group to add nine new routes from the airport, the airline's biggest base. Ryanair will increase its passenger traffic at Stansted from 13 million in 2013 to 20 million this year.
EasyJet - which is now seeking an air operator's certificate in another EU country - also called yesterday for a "straightforward bilateral aviation agreement" between the UK and the EU post-Brexit "which will allow UK airlines to fly to Europe and European airlines to fly to the UK".
Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr has claimed it will be "virtually impossible" for the UK to reach an agreement with the European Union in time to avoid disruption to flights across the trading bloc once it leaves the EU.