AOA stresses need for new EU air traffic rights agreements
The Airport Operators Association (AOA) has stressed that the importance of aviation as the main mode of transport for people travelling between the UK and the EU means that it is imperative that new agreements on air traffic rights are secured.
With the invoking of Article 50 negotiations on the UK’s exit from the EU will now start, including new agreements with the EU and other countries like the US to replace existing EU-level agreements on aviation traffic rights.
Chief Executive of the AOA Karen Dee said: “The Prime Minister’s letter setting in motion the process for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will enable us to work constructively with Government and European partners to build the deep and special partnership between the UK and the EU that the Prime Minister seeks.
“Aviation is a prime example of the benefits of such a deep and special partnership. Aviation is the principal means of travel for people travelling between the UK and the EU, enabling the flow of business and tourism. Our economies flourish thanks to our excellent aviation connectivity, not least because 40% of the UK’s trade by value travels by air. "
The UK was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the EU Single Aviation Market in the 1990s (separate from the better-known Single Market in services, goods, labour and capital), which removed all commercial restrictions for airlines flying within the EU, such as restrictions on the routes, the number of flights or the setting of fares.
As a result, all EU airlines may operate air services on any route within the EU, including domestically within an EU country (cabotage rights). The UK also has access to the EU’s external aviation agreements, most importantly the 2008 EU-US Open Skies Agreement that enables any EU or US airline to fly any transatlantic route, which benefitted connectivity from the UK in particular.
Karen concluded: “We share the Government’s confidence that new agreements on air traffic rights with the EU and countries like the US and Canada can be secured. The alternative – the disappearance of the legal framework for around 85% of the UK’s air traffic with no WTO-style fall-back option – would be very disruptive for both sides.
“As there is no fall-back option, we are pleased to see the Prime Minister’s strong emphasis on giving business, including in aviation, as much certainty as possible. Airlines and tour operators will be confirming their 2019 flight schedules twelve to eighteen months in advance, underlining the need for clarity on implementation periods to adjust in a smooth and orderly way to new arrangements. This will ensure business and consumer confidence in our future connectivity.
“We look forward to working closely with the Government and our EU partners to secure a new partnership that works for everyone.”
The UK has air services agreements with 155 countries, of which 44 are through the UK’s membership of the EU as described above. These 44 account for around 85% of the UK’s air traffic and are the 27 EU Member States, the three EEA Member States, Switzerland, the six countries that form part of the European Common Aviation Area (e.g. the Western Balkans) and seven countries with which the EU has a comprehensive air services agreement with, including the US and Canada.
The Airport Operators Association (AOA) is the trade association that represents UK airports. Its mission is to see UK airports grow sustainably, representing the views of UK airports to Government, Parliament and regulators to secure policy outcomes.