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newsHow Brexit will affect air transport in the event of no deal

The European Commission has published its assessment of how the rules relating to air transport operators based in the UK will change post Brexit in the event of no deal. Such a scenario would result in changes to the operating licences held by air carriers, and changes to the rules relating to traffic rights and designation rights. These changes are detailed below.

If you work as an air carrier, or in the air transport industry, or it you use or rely on air transport services in either your personal or professional capacity, then please read on.

CHANGES TO THE RULES RELATING TO OPERATING LICENCES POST BREXIT IN THE EVENT OF NO DEAL

Air carriers holding EU operating licences:

In order to obtain and keep an EU operating licence and benefit from the intra-EU air traffic rights, air carriers must comply at all times with the conditions under Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 on air services. The conditions include, among others,

• the need to have one's principal place of business within an EU Member State, and
• to be majority owned and effectively controlled by EU Member States and/or nationals of EU Member States.

If these conditions are no longer fulfilled as a consequence of the United Kingdom becoming a third country, the operating licence at issue will no longer be valid.

Air carriers holding an operating licence delivered by the UK authorities:

As of the withdrawal date, the operating licences granted to airlines by the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority will no longer be valid EU operating licences.

In order to continue benefiting from the freedoms of establishment and to provide air services within the EU internal market as of the withdrawal date, air carriers are advised to consider any measure required to ensure that the conditions for holding an EU operating licence are complied with in all circumstances.

CHANGES TO INTERNATIONAL ASPECTS POST BREXIT IN THE EVENT OF NO DEAL

As of the withdrawal date, the United Kingdom will automatically cease to be covered by air transport agreements of the Union, whether these have been entered into by the Union alone (e.g. the Air Transport Agreement with Switzerland) or by the Union and its Member States acting jointly (e.g. the Air Transport Agreement with the USA). This has in particular consequences as regards access to designation/traffic rights and other areas covered by the said agreements.

Air carriers of the United Kingdom:

Air carriers of the United Kingdom will no longer enjoy traffic rights under any air transport agreement to which the Union is a party, be it to or from the territory of the United Kingdom, be it to or from the territory of any of the EU Member States.

Air carriers of the United Kingdom will no longer have access to designation/traffic rights so far available under the bilateral air transport agreements between EU Member States and a third country on account of the principle of EU designation accepted by the third country concerned.

Air carriers of any of the EU Member States:

Air carriers of the EU Member States will no longer enjoy traffic rights to or from the territory of the United Kingdom granted to Union carriers by a third country under any air transport agreement to which the Union is a party.

Rights under the said agreements as regards, inter alia, cooperative market arrangements including leasing, intermodal service or operational flexibility may be affected if, and to the extent to which, they are exercised in the territory of the United Kingdom or in connection with carriers of the United Kingdom.

Air carriers of the EU Member States may no longer have access to designation/traffic rights so far available under the bilateral air transport agreements between the United Kingdom and a third country on account of the principle of EU designation accepted by the third country concerned.

Air carriers of countries which are not Member States of the EU:

Air carriers of countries which are not Member States of the EU will no longer benefit from access to traffic rights to or from the territory of the United Kingdom, or any other rights where these have been granted to their country under any air transport agreement to which the Union is a party.

The Commission makes the point that preparing for the withdrawal of the UK from the EU is not just a matter for negotiation, but also for private parties. Businesses in the air transport sector, or businesses that send goods or people by air to the EU or from the EU, need to think about how these changes would effect their business, and consider what sort of contingency planning needs to be done in order for the business concerned not to be damaged by these changes.

Air transport businesses and users of those businesses should try to share this information as widely as possible, so that all businesses have the opportunity to prepare and plan on how best to manage these major changes. Please pass it on to anyone who you think may be affected, and raise any concerns with the appropriate trade bodies.

The full text of the Notice to Stakeholders (which includes links to references) is available at

2017-12-11-notice-to-stakeholders-air-transport.pdf102.68 KB