'New UK air deal needed by next year'
A NEW aviation agreement with the United Kingdom is needed by next spring to avert the possibility of flights between Ireland and Britain being disrupted once Brexit is triggered in 2019, a Seanad committee has warned.
The Seanad Brexit Committee cautioned that the airline sector could be hit unless a deal is hammered out.
A record 12.8 million passengers flew between Ireland and the UK last year and that figure is on track to be exceeded this year.
Air travel within the EU is governed under an open-skies agreement that lets any EU-registered carrier fly to any other EU country. Additionally, the EU and the United States operate an open-skies arrangement that lets any EU carrier fly to anywhere in the US and vice versa.
Ryanair has already indicated that it would have to secure a UK air operator's certificate if it wanted to continue operating domestic UK flights.
UK airline EasyJet is in the process of securing such a certificate within the EU.
Publishing its report yesterday, the Seanad Special Select Committee charged with examining the impact of Brexit on Ireland, said that civil aviation posed "one of the most significant challenges" it identified, with a "high level of concern" regarding the need to replace the open-skies agreement between the EU and the United States.
It added: "The committee recommends that a new agreement is put in place before spring 2018, so air routes for 2018/2019 are not adversely impacted." The committee also said Brexit could see the reintroduction of duty-free retailing between the UK and EU.