IATA: UK must provide clarity about Brexit and Heathrow expansion

IATA director general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is urging the UK government to focus on a cost effective expansion of Heathrow Airport and providing clarity on post-Brexit issues.

Director general and chief executive officer, Alexandre de Juniac was addressing the UK Aviation Club, where he highlighted the issues the UK could face following its departure of the European Union in March 2019.

He warns that when the UK leaves the European Single Market, it will also leave the European Common Aviation Area, which could throw all traffic rights associated with Europe into question.

De Juniac says: “The basis of international aviation is bilateral air services agreements. There is no WTO agreement to fall back on. For that reason, I don’t see any alternative to a negotiated agreement.”

IATA is urging an early resolution for aviation in the Brexit discussion, pointing out that the aviation deadline is earlier than date of Brexit.

He explains: “At a minimum, the flight schedules and seat and cargo inventories must be available at least six months in advance. So that puts the airlines’ deadline at October 2018—just 11 months from now.”

The UK government is being urged to address the capacity constraints in the Southeast of the UK by expanding Heathrow, saying the economic value of £200 billion and creation of 110,000 jobs from constructing a third runway means it is essential in a post-Brexit world.

Though de Juniac describes the original cost estimate of £17 billion as “completely unacceptable”, measures to reduce this are a step in the right direction.

He says: “Heathrow is already the most expensive airport in the world from which to operate. It is essential that Heathrow’s charges do not rise from today’s levels. The construction of the third runway must enhance Heathrow’s competitiveness, not destroy it!”

De Juniac adds that a successful airport needs sufficient capacity and quality, aligned with airline operational needs and affordable costs.

He says: “In delivering the third runway, Heathrow’s capacity issue will be resolved for now. But achieving the right quality at the correct price requires consultation with the airlines. And one idea from the airline community that should be taken into consideration by the government is seeking competitive bids from developers.”