In light of the political fall-out over the Withdrawal Agreement (which has to be approved by the Governments of the EU27, the European Parliament and the UK Parliament), the UK Government is still continuing with its no deal planning. Helpfully, following the publication of the UK’s technical notices that outlines what the UK would do on aviation in a no-deal scenario, the European Commission this week published a series of papers on its actions on aviation during a no-deal scenario.
In the papers, the European Commission proposes that UK airlines will be able to keep flying between the UK and the EU27 (3rd and 4th freedoms) subject to reciprocity for EU27 airlines (which, in its technical notices, the UK has said it would grant). The Commission does not refer to the right of UK airlines to fly within the EU27 or beyond – for that, UK-based airlines will need to satisfy the EU’s ownership & control requirements. The Commission has told ACI EUROPE that they are in the process of identifying the “appropriate tool” to implement this and will coordinate with EU27 States for that purpose.
The papers also indicate that the Commission will propose measures allowing for UK aircraft and crew certificates to remain valid (again on condition of reciprocity from the UK) – and that it will instruct EASA to work on this. Finally, the Commission confirmed that it will take action to ensure that the UK will remain within the EU One Stop Aviation Security Regime – thus avoiding the need for UK originating passengers to be re-screened/checked for security purposes when connecting at EU27 airports.
This means that there is a clear way forward on how the UK and the EU can ensure that air traffic is not disrupted in a no-deal scenario, though with some issues still needing clarified including whether this will be done as an agreement between the UK and the EU or as a series of unilateral measures taken by both sides. However, this does still leave potential disruption at the border due to customs as well as sanitary and phytosanitary checks. The EU will treat the UK as a third country, meaning an increase in border checks. The AOA is engaged in the UK planning for this through the Aviation Steering Group of the cross-government Border Delivery Group.
For flights to non-EU countries currently covered by EU-level agreements, all the UK-bilateral agreements the DfT has been working on to replace these EU-level agreements have been drafted in such a way that they can either come into force the moment the UK leaves the EU on 29 March or at the end of a transition period, meaning continuation of flights in any event.