The Airports Council International (ACI) Europe has urged Brexit negotiators to prioritise aviation – as the UK gets set to notify of its intention to leave the European Union (EU) in the coming days.
ACI Europe says it has concerns about the prospects of ongoing uncertainty over the rules that will come to govern aviation between the UK and the remaining EU Member States (EU27).
This it says needs to be quickly resolved to provide clarity for to enable continued investment in growing our collective connectivity. The airport trade association also cautioned about the economic consequences of the UK aviation market not remaining closely integrated within the EU27 aviation market.
Speaking at the 9th ACI Airport Economics & Finance Conference in London, ACI Europe director general, Olivier Jankovec (pictured below) says: “The ‘sequencing’ of the Brexit negotiations means talks will initially focus on agreeing exit terms for the UK, before they eventually come to define the new relationship between the UK and the EU27 as of 2019.
“This implies that the aviation industry will be left in the dark for many more months to come about what will happen. Unless quickly resolved, this uncertainty will end up constraining route network development for airports, ultimately affecting air connectivity for their communities. This is due to the fact that airline route planning requires both long lead times and legal certainty.”
Brexit negotiations are set to be framed by a strict two-year deadline, and ACI Europe says one cannot presume an agreement will be reached on exit terms and failure to do so would mean the UK exiting the EU without the terms of its new relationship with the bloc being clearly defined.
For aviation, it says this could well result in market access falling back on more restrictive bilateral provisions between the UK and individual EU27 States – with potentially disruptive effects on air connectivity and the economy.
Jankovec explains: “As responsible businesses, at this stage we simply cannot rule out a cliff-edged scenario for Brexit and aviation. The potential impact of this on air connectivity, consumers and the wider economy needs to be addressed by Brexit negotiators – on both sides.
“This means that adequate contingencies need to be established promptly in case the UK would exit the EU without any agreement on its future relationship with the bloc.”
He adds: “The contribution of aviation to the economies of both the UK and the EU27 is largely conditioned by the full integration of their aviation markets – enabled by the Single Aviation Market.
“This means that this contribution depends not just on the freedom to fly and unrestricted market access for airlines, but also on a wide range of common rules. These common rules are an essential part of the fabric of European air transport. They avoid costly duplications and conflicting requirements.
“Let’s be clear: losing this integration between the UK and EU aviation markets is akin to putting an end to a relationship which creates tremendous value and brings extensive mutual benefits.”