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This post was last updated on January 6th, 2019 at 09:29 am
Brexit and aviation
Brexit and aviation are inextricably linked, whether we like it or not. Brexit brings with it many uncertainties,including the impact that leaving the EU will have on UK aviation. We’ve all heard the scaremongering statements that all UK air traffic will be haulted in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario. But what is the truth of it? I explain below.
What is Brexit?
For any of you who don’t know (seriously, have you been living under a rock???), Brexit, also known as the “British Exit”, is the name of the UK’s decision in 2016 to leave the European Union. Brexit is a complex issue, having multiple layers and many different effects on both society and economy in the EU.
Essentially, leaving the EU means removing ourselves from the ‘four freedoms’ from which the fundamental EU principles lie. This includes; free movement of goods, freedom of movement for workers, right of establishment and freedom to provide services, free movement of capital. As you can probably imagine, the aviation industry is tied up in all of these areas visas needed for Cabin Crew, to transportation of cargo goods to airline bases in various parts of the EU.
Back in 2016, shortly after the referendum, I speculated what the impacts of Brexit might be on the wider travel and tourism industry in this post- ‘BREXIT: How Will This Impact the Travel and Tourism Industry?‘, and despite over two years having past since this time, nothing much has changed
In order to understand the relationship between Brexit and aviation and the impact that this might have on the industry, we first need to understand the Chicago Convention.
What is the Chicago Convention?
This convention, also known as the Convention on International Civil Aviation, establishes rules and regulations for international air travel.
The convention is responsible for the creation of rules of airspace, aircraft registration, safety and regulation of signatories in air travel. This specialised agency is very important when it comes to all things air travel.
Nine, five formal and four unofficial, freedoms were established by the convention to spell out the rights of each of the member states. The freedoms are*:
- Right to fly over a foreign country without landing
- Right to refuel or perform maintenance in a foreign country
- Right to fly from one’s country to another
- Right to fly from a foreign country back to one’s country
- Right to fly between two foreign countries during flight’s that take off or land in one’s own country
- Right to fly between two foreign countries while not offering flights to one’s own country
- Right to fly from one foreign country to another while stopping in one’s country
- Right to fly between two or more airports in a foreign country while continuing services to one’s own country
- Right to fly inside a foreign country without continuing service to one’s own country
Where is all starts to become a bit complicated is when you consider the various alliances or associations that exist, which determine many of the rules superseding this dated convention. As it currently stands, we are a member of the EU’s Single Aviation Market (Sam). Sam currently covers the UK’s rights to the so-called “freedoms of the air”, which include overflights of countries without landing and operating internal flights in foreign countries.
Should be leave the EU without a deal, the UK would effectively be stripped of their operating licences for the 27 EU member countries. The UK would also lose air traffic rights involving countries including the United States, Canada and Switzerland because they had been made through the EU.
What will happen to air travel if no deal with Brexit is reached?
If no deal can be reached with Brexit, there will be major impacts on air travel in the UK. One of the largest issues will be that the UK will only be allowed to travel and refuel within the UK. Essentially, this would mean that all air transport will be grounded.
With transport and tourism being such a huge part of the economy in the UK, this would severely jeopardise the economy and lives of citizens in the UK, not to mention the metal health of those who can no longer go on their holidays or buy their favourite imported coffee! Jobs, trading and tourism will all be effected and negatively impacted.
Whilst many believe that the threat of aircraft being grounded is ‘scare mongering’, it does indeed ring true that this is a real possibility for the future. Personally, I don’t think it will come to this, but who am I to predict! What are your views on Brexit and aviation? Do you think Brexit and aviation could cause UK flights to be grounded indefinitely? Leave your comments below!