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UK air travel could slump if no early Brexit aviation deal: report

UK air travel could slump if no early Brexit aviation deal: report

LONDON: Britain’s airports could see passenger numbers plunge by as much as 40 per cent unless the government strikes an interim aviation deal with the European Union by October 2018, according to an industry report seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

The study, commissioned by leading British airports including London’s Heathrow and Gatwick, said flights could be grounded and Britain’s economy would be hit without a guarantee of future access to the EU’s single aviation market.

Britain is due to leave the EU in March 2019, but with many air passengers booking months in advance, the government needs to secure a deal well before then to reduce uncertainty, the report said. Unlike other areas, such as trade, there is no automatic fallback position if no deal is reached.

In its most pessimistic scenario, the report said there could be a 41pc plunge in passengers at Britain’s biggest airports between March 2018 and March 2019.

Its central scenario, assuming uncertainty over the status of flights, is for an 11.5pc drop during that period.

“The risk of no deal creates uncertainty for the industry,” it said. “Although an 11th hour deal may prevent planes from being grounded, damage to the aviation industry and the wider economy would have already been done.”

Given what’s at stake, however, it described the chances of Britain and the EU not achieving a deal as “remote”.

The report echoes warnings from Michael O’Leary, CEO of Europe’s biggest airline Ryanair, who said earlier this month the threat of major disruption to air travel from Brexit was increasing.

Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2017

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