Ryanair Chief, Michael O’Leary, is due to meet with UK transport secretary Chris Grayling today to discuss the implications of Brexit for aviation…
The airline boss has sharply criticised the British government for not recognising the risks to the industry, warning that flights between the UK and the EU could come to a stop in 2019 if there is a hard Brexit with no deal.
The Irish airline, which flies more than 30 million British passengers a year, has already warned that it may have to cancel flights to and from the UK ahead of March 2019, the scheduled date for the country to leave the bloc, if there is no certainty about an aviation deal.
Mr O’Leary argues that the UK’s exit from the EU would also force it out of the open skies treaty, which allows airlines to fly freely throughout the bloc. He says that this would have to be replaced with a bi-lateral deal between the UK and EU, and it is the lack of any sign of progress on this front that concerns Mr O’Leary, who points out that the British government has yet to “get out of the starting blocks” in the Brexit talks.
“There is a real prospect, and we have to deal with this, that there are going to be no flights between the UK and Europe for a period of weeks, months, beyond March 2019,” he told the European Parliament transport committee recently.
Mr Grayling told an aviation industry gathering last month that while he understood the need for a rapid deal between the UK and EU it would be some time before the British government could “deliver that certainty”.
His department insists that aviation is a priority in the Brexit talks and that the British government is pursuing open access to EU skies.