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Aviation: IATA warns on no-deal Brexit

As the United Kingdom lurches towards a potential no-deal exit from the European Union, the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) has warned about the consequences for aviation in Europe.

EU position on aviation no-deal

On January 15, members of parliament rejected the proposed UK-EU exit deal, increasing the likelihood that the UK will leave the union at the end of March without robust plans to support a number of industries including airlines. The Aviation Oracle covered this subject on December 20, 2018 but it is worth highlighting again one of the critical challenges that will arise.

Document COM2018(893) - Air Transport (Basic connectivity) outlines the EU position on airline activity in the event the UK exits without a deal: "the total seasonal capacity to be provided by UK air carriers for routes between the United Kingdom and each Member State shall not exceed the total number of frequencies operated by those carriers on those routes during respectively the IATA winter and summer seasons of the year of 2018."

This condition prohibits additional flights on existing routes between the UK and the EU after March 29 - which is when the UK is scheduled to leave the EU and the airline summer season gets underway. Frequencies from then on will be limited to summer / winter 2018 levels, and opening any new routes will be out of the question. Therefor there is a genuine risk of no growth in air services between the UK and the EU for the rest of 2019 and into 2020. But with traffic continuing to grow one of the likely consequence is that airfares will rise - if indeed all of the demand can be accommodated.

Crowded skies: if the UK leaves the UK without a deal on March 29, there is a real risk that some flights already on sale could be cancelled. (Phillip Capper)

Here's the real rub though: airlines have already prepared summer 2019 timetables and flight are on sale. Slots have been allocated. New equipment including aircraft has been acquired in an expectation that growth in demand will be met through additional frequencies. If the UK exits without a deal, some of the additional flights that airlines have already planned for this summer will have to be cancelled.

IATA warning

Following the vote against the proposed deal in the UK Houses of Parliament, IATA (the trade body that represents most of the world's leading airlines) highlighted the risks posed by a no-deal Brexit. In a statement issued on January 17 it said: "