Ryanair has threatened to halt flights from the UK if Theresa May fails to effect an early bilateral Brexit deal on international aviation.The company’s chief financial officer, Neil Sorahan said the suspension of flights from Stansted and other airports was “a very distinct possibility.”He added: “In the worst-case scenario there will be no flights in or out of the UK to Europe for a period, for all carriers. There could be a situation where you’re going to have got comfortable with staycations for the summer of 2019: those trips down to Portugal and Spain, unless you can swim, aren’t really going to happen.”
An existing Europe-wide “open skies” regulation allows Ryan air and all EU airlines to operate out of the UK, as well as other countries inthe “common travel area” such as Morocco, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. The policy binds EU members to regulatory oversight by the European court of justice and to free movement. Sorahan added that Ryan air had to make contingency plans because the EU had said there could be no Brexit deal until all issues are settled.
“Europe has been very clear in recent days that no deals are going to be put in place, they are not planning to put any special deals in place,” he said. “If there was a cliff-edge scenario with World Trade Organisation rules and no bilateral on open skies in place, there is a distinct possibility that there will be no flights for a period of time between Europe and the UK. The impact on business would be disastrous.”
Ryanair has bases in 19 UK airports such as Belfast, Stansted and Glasgow, with 40 of its 400 aircraft operating in Britain. The airline is considering stopping flights between Scotland, Northern Ireland and London, due to costs expected after Brexit. The Dublin-based airline , like all other airlines schedule aircraft 12 months in advance, which is why they’d insist to know the possible regulatory regime by next March.
Sorahan said Ryanair was talking to the Department for Transport and the Department for Exiting the European Union but there was no indication of the possibility of a new open skies deal. A government spokeswoman said: “Aviation is absolutely crucial to the UK’s economy and we are committed to getting the right deal for Britain. We will work closely with the internationalaviation community to ensure that this global industry continues to be a major success story for the UK economy.”