The British Government has outlined aviation arrangements with ten nations for post-Brexit flights. These include an ‘open skies’-style deal with both the United States and Canada.
The UK Department for Transport (DfT) said the move would allow airlines to continue operations as usual between key countries after Brexit. In addition to the North American agreements, further settlements have been reached with authorities in Albania, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Kosovo, Montenegro, Morocco and Switzerland.
In terms of economic impact, the most significant of the deals is with the United States. Flights between the two countries currently operate under a US-EU open skies treaty.
Speaking as the US deal was announced, British transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “The UK and United States have a special relationship which has helped shape the modern world and there is no better example of this than in aviation. This new arrangement and those concluded with eight [later to be nine including Canada] other countries around the world are proof that the UK will continue to be a major player on the world stage after we leave the EU.”
Under the arrangement, majority-owned carriers from the EU operating between the UK and US will be allowed to continue to fly existing services on the condition they remain owned and controlled by EU/EEA nationals or UK nationals.
One of the airlines most vulnerable to any turbulence in the transatlantic market is British Airways. Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG – BA’s parent company – was cautiously optimistic in his analysis: “It’s critical that Britain maintains full access to international aviation markets so it can continue to develop its global trading links. This agreement is a significant positive development which we welcome. The agreement, which closely follows the Model US Open Skies Agreement, facilitates strong competition and is clearly pro-consumer.”
Just days after reaching a pact with Washington, details of a similar arrangement with Canada followed. Under this deal, airlines from both Canada and the United Kingdom will be allowed to continue their existing operations, and provide “full flexibility” on certain agreed routes, including those via third countries. The agreement with Ottawa, part of the country’s Blue Sky policy, also includes arrangements for cargo services and codeshares.
Canadian transport minister Marc Garneau commented: “The UK is one of our largest air travel markets, as well as a key trading partner and valued ally. This agreement is an expression of our robust longstanding air transport relationship, and it will continue to support tourism, trade and investment between Canada and the UK.”