Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary will meet with transport secretary Chris Grayling today to voice concerns over progress on a post-Brexit deal on open skies in Europe.
The chief executive of Europe’s largest carrier told last night’s BBC Newsnight programme that the government did not know how to get a deal on flying rights.
He said Ryanair would be fine, with just a small issue over EU ownership rules facing it post-Brexit but that no deal could mean flights being grounded in 2019.
The need to finalise flying programmes well in advance meant the issue was now critical for all airlines, he told Newsnight.
O’Leary denied there is a vested interest on both sides to strike a deal saying EU members see aviation as a bargaining chip to put pressure on the UK during Brexit talks.
At today’s private meeting with Grayling, O’Leary is expected to raise concerns that no tangible progress has been made towards a new bilateral agreement with the EU.
O’Leary’s position is at odds with other airline bosses like IAG’s Willie Walsh and easyJet’s Carolyn McCall who say a deal on aviation is at the top of Grayling’s agenda.
Addressing a European Parliament Transport and Tourism Committee last month O’Leary warned:
“There is a real prospect, and we need to deal with this, that there are going to be no flights between the UK and Europe for a period of weeks, months beyond March 2019.
“There is not going to be an interim agreement… we will be cancelling people’s holidays for summer of 2019.”
In a statement issued to Sky News, the Department for Transport said: “Aviation is absolutely crucial to the UK’s economy and we are committed to getting the right deal for Britain.
“Our aviation industry is the largest in Europe, and both we and the EU benefit from the connectivity it provides.
“That’s why we are pursuing liberal access to European aviation markets – including all the benefits that brings for consumers.”
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