UK CAA Prepares for ‘No-Deal’ Brexit as Uncertainty Continues for Aviation Industry

A British Airways A380 landing at London's Heathrow Airport (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

At 2300 GMT on Friday, March 29, 2019, the United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union. With this deadline only five months away and the strong possibility of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, uncertainty remains for all parties of what life will be like from March 30. For the aviation industry and transport sector in general, the way in which business is conducted and how customers will be affected is a matter of serious concern.

In the absence of a clear understanding of what the aviation landscape will look like for the UK in its future relationship with the EU, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has created a website to inform and update those in the industry, or with an interest in aviation of the impact of a ‘no-deal’ situation. The aim of the site is to be “a central source of information for the aviation and aerospace industries about the actions they would need to take to be prepared for a no deal withdrawal from the EU and no continued mutual recognition.”

The UK government has made it clear that it wishes to continue with a “liberal aviation access market” and continued participation in the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), a body which amongst its many remits recognizes and issues certifications for pilots, cabin crew and engineers in the EU. However, both of these issues need to be part of the negotiating process for Brexit and to date, there has been no confirmation of what arrangements have been made to retain the status quo.

In the event of a failure to secure a deal with the EU, the UK government released a series of documents last month outlining the effects of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit for the transport industry. The effects on aviation safety and security are covered, as are the impact on flights to and from the UK.

The government makes it clear that flights would not be able to operate as they currently do due to the European Common Aviation Area but that it would allow the status quo to continue in respect to EU licensed carriers and that it would “expect EU countries to reciprocate in turn. It would not be in the interest of any EU country or the UK to restrict the choice of destinations that could be served, though, if such permissions are not granted, there could be disruption to some flights.”

To counter this uncertainty and possible disruption, both EU and UK carriers, such as Ryanair and easyJet,  have obtained Air Operator Certificates (AOC) in both the EU and UK. However further disruption may occur if the UK fails to negotiate bilateral air service agreements (ASA) with the 17 countries UK airlines currently operate to under the auspices of EU ASA’s and ‘Open Skies’ agreements.

Already there have been concerns that the terms in the current ‘Open Skies’ agreement between the EU and the United States may not extend to the ASA between the U.S. and the U.K. Reports from negotiations earlier in the year were that the U.S. was taking a more hardline approach though no details have been forthcoming.

The hope for the aviation industry is that the status quo can continue at least through the two year transition period which currently extends through until 2021. However, none of this is certain and airline bosses will have to wait with everyone else to hear what the future holds.

John Flett

John Flett

John has always had a passion for aviation and through a career with Air New Zealand has gained a strong understanding of aviation operations and the strategic nature of the industry. During his career with the airline, John held multiple leadership roles and was involved in projects such as the introduction of both the 777-200 and -300 type aircraft and the development of the IFE for the 777-300. He was also part of a small team who created and published the internal communications magazines for Air New Zealand’s pilots, cabin crew and ground staff balancing a mix of corporate and social content.

John is educated to postgraduate level achieving a masters degree with Distinction in Airline and Airport Management and has recently led an undergraduate Aviation Management course for 450 students at a leading London university. John is currently an external instructor for IATA (International Air Transport Association) and a member of the Heathrow Community Fund’s ‘Communities for Tomorrow’ panel.
John Flett