Airlines warn of Brexit travel chaos

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October 24, 2018
IATA Brexit travel chaos
IATA boss Alexandre de Juniac.

Urgent action is needed to avoid traveler chaos and disruptions from a Brexit hard exit, the International Air Transport Association has warned.

IATA warned that even a best-case scenario involving an agreed transition from March, 2019 involved a  high degree of risk and uncertainty.

It said a no-deal or “hard” Brexit outcome was likely to lead to “a significant disruption to air services”.

The industry lobby group called on the UK and the European Union to put in place contingency plans aimed at ensuring the uninterrupted continuation of air connectivity.

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It also wants and a framework for regulating safety and security before the exit in March 2019 as well as policies and processes for efficient border management.

“These are the most critical areas because there are no fall back agreements such as the WTO framework available in a ‘no-deal’ Brexit scenario,’’ said IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac.

“Without any contingency planning being made transparent to the industry, the risks of not addressing these issues could mean chaos for travelers and interrupted supply chains.

“With less than six months to go, we have little more certainty than we did in June 2016.”

The lack of transparency concerning any contingency planning has left airlines completely in the dark as to what measures to take and de Juniac said both the EU and the UK had a responsibility “to the millions of their citizens who depend on reliable air transportation”.

“The goal should be a comprehensive air services agreement that does not step backwards from the connectivity existing today,’’ he said.

“But with the possibility of a ‘no deal’ Brexit still on the table this late in the game, it is now essential that the EU and UK civil aviation authorities plan for contingency arrangements to maintain a minimum level of connectivity, which is vital for people and for business.

“This has to be one of the most important Brexit considerations. A backstop contingency plan to keep planes flying after March must be published, and quickly.’’

Ryanair has also warned that air passengers face chaos unless urgent action is taken on Brexit.