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PM must commit to EU-UK air service agreement, even in “no deal” scenario 

The pilots’ union, BALPA, is urging the Prime Minister and EU officials to publicly commit to signing a UK-EU air service agreement in order to keep planes flying, even if a broader trade agreement is unachievable.

This week is widely seen a crunch point in the EU-UK negotiations and the PM and his allies have referred to their confidence that the UK will prosper even without an agreement. But aviation will not. We need an EU-UK air service agreement otherwise planes simply cannot fly between the UK and the EU. There is no WTO fall-back option for aviation.

We would ideally like to see the current open skies arrangements continue, but this seems extremely unlikely given the political circumstances. We currently enjoy high level ‘freedoms of the air’ between the UK and EU. We need as many of those freedoms as possible to continue.

Brian Strutton, BALPA General Secretary, said, “The British airline industry is suffering through an extraordinary amount of uncertainty and pain as a result of both Covid and Brexit. The Government could and should have provided help and certainty on both fronts by now, but late is better than never.

“The Prime Minister and the EU side simply must commit that whatever the outcome of these trade talks, an EU-UK air service agreement, providing as much freedom to fly as possible and with mutual recognition of licences, will be signed by both sides ASAP, and that planes will keep flying. To do otherwise would be reckless given the parlous state of this industry right now.”