By Alex Macheras
The possibility of a no-deal Brexit remains very much alive. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is committed to leaving the EU on October 31, despite Parliament passing a law that could extend the Brexit deadline into the new year.
In a no-deal scenario, the UK would immediately leave the European Union with few — or no — agreements about the divorce process. No-deal would also see the UK leave the single market and customs union with immediate effect.
For a variety of industries, including aviation, a no-deal Brexit is set to leave question marks in areas that concern future interactions with the EU.
The UK is currently a key member of EASA, the EU’s agency that oversees aviation safety. For example, when EASA takes action, it’s implemented in the UK, too. Remaining an EASA member is a goal shared by the UK Government and the UK Civil Aviation Autohrity, but the UK hasn’t yet been able to confirm if it can remain a member in the event of no deal. For this reason, the UK government says it is prepared in case remaining a member of EASA can’t be achieved.
Legislation is in place to protect basic aviation connectivity between the UK and EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit. It covers the interim period before a comprehensive air transport agreement is reached between the UK and the 27 member countries of the EU.
For a UK airline to continue to operate in the EU, the legislation requires operators to obtain an operating authorisation from each member state where it wants to operate. Much like British drivers licences and car registrations, most certified documents in British aviation are EU-certified documents. In a no-deal Brexit, the UK would recognise EASA certificates, approvals and licences for use in the UK aviation system and on UK-registered aircraft at least for a period of two years following Brexit. The government has said that it believes it’s in the EU’s interests to recognise UK certificates, approvals and licences in the same way.
Pilots with UK licences who want to fly EU-registered aircraft in a post-no-deal Brexit would need to transfer their licence to another EASA member state before Brexit. Low-cost carrier EasyJet has already transferred more than 1,400 pilots licences from the United Kingdom jurisdiction to Austria as a part of no-deal planning.
The UK intends to recognise EU cargo security rules immediately in the event of a no-deal Brexit to minimise disruption to air cargo networks. Airlines flying from airports in the EU, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland will be able to fly cargo to the UK in the same way as they do now. The EU has confirmed it will reciprocate this.
In preparation for a no-deal Brexit, the UK has had to work with the US, Canada, Brazil and Japan to ensure replacement bilateral arrangements would be in place post-Brexit. New arrangements facilitate the recognition of each others’ safety certificates, and support both international trade and airline operations, including how much an airline from one country can fly to the other. The UK says similar agreements are not necessarily needed with other countries: membership of the global aviation regulator ICAO provides a degree of confidence in respective safety regimes, and in some other cases they agree specific working arrangements with individual states.
Passengers’ rights to compensation in connection with delayed or cancelled flights under Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 will not be affected — although it’s likely the six-month claim period will no longer be valid (currently, you may claim for a flight delay in the last 6 months).
There’s still a lot up in the air about what Brexit may mean for the United Kingdom. Specifically if there’s a hard, no-deal Brexit, there could be some changes to the way the aviation sector operates in the UK and throughout Europe.
* The author is an aviation analyst. Twitter handle: @AlexInAir
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