The UK and European Union (EU) must “prioritise finding a solution that brings certainty to airlines” according to the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) chief.
The association released a statement after UK MPs last night rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s UK-EU Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, leaving a no deal ever closer as the days tick down to 29 March when the UK leaves the bloc.
MPs voted by 432 votes to 202 to reject the deal, the heaviest defeat for a sitting government in history and PM May faces a vote of no confidence later today. If she wins, she is set to submit a revised plan and looks set to reach out to opposition MPs.
IATA said that although most passengers’ flights will go ahead despite the decision, there “remains uncertainty for both travelers and airlines about post-Brexit air connectivity”.
A ‘no deal’ Brexit the association said could lead to a cap on flights that will stunt important economic opportunities and may lead to higher prices for consumers.
The proposed guidance from the EU Commission in the event of ‘no deal’ calls for the current level of flights between the UK and the EU to be maintained, but does not allow for an increase in flight numbers in 2019 compared to 2018.
IATA research estimates that up to five million extra seats are scheduled for 2019 compared to 2018 in order to meet consumer demand. Many of these will be in the peak summer season when families will be booking holidays. These are at risk if a ‘no deal’ Brexit occurs.
IATA’s director general and chief executive officer, Alexandre de Juniac said: “That current flight levels will be protected even with a hard Brexit is an important assurance. But with two months left until Britain leaves the EU, airlines still do not know exactly what kind of Brexit they should be planning for.
“And there is legal and commercial uncertainty over how the Commission’s plan to cap flight numbers will work. In the small window remaining before Brexit it is imperative that the EU and UK prioritize finding a solution that brings certainty to airlines planning growth to meet demand and to travelers planning business trips and family holiday.”