Brussels ‘casts doubt on IAG’s post-Brexit flight path’

British Airways owner International Airlines Group has reportedly been warned by Brussels that its favoured strategy to allow it to continue fly freely in and around Europe in the event of a no-deal Brexit will not work.

European carriers will have to show they are more than 50% EU-owned and controlled to retain flying rights in the bloc after Brexit.

Certain companies – including IAG – have yet to ensure they will reach that threshold post-Brexit, when UK nationals will no longer count towards the tally, the Financial Times reported.

IAG, which also owns the Spanish flag carrier Iberia, low-cost carrier Vueling, Aer Lingus and Level, is registered in Spain but headquartered in the UK and has diverse global shareholders.

The FT said part of IAG’s strategy to retain both EU and UK operating rights is to stress that its important individual airlines are domestically owned through a series of trusts and companies, rather than being part of the bigger group comprising a high proportion of non-EU investors.

The FT quoted an unnamed senior EU official as saying: “For IAG, I can’t see how it can be a solution.”

Concerns have been raised with IAG over its post-Brexit ownership structure, the FT quoted a second Brussels official familiar with the conversations as saying.

IAG told the newspaper: “We are confident that we will comply with the EU and the UK ownership and control rules post-Brexit.”

IAG reported that passenger carryings in 2018 increased up by eight million to almost 113 million over the previous year.

Group traffic in December was up by 8.8% over the same month in 2017 as capacity rose by 9.4%.

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