The head of the UK’s biggest airline, easyJet’s Johan Lundgren, has dismissed reports that a no-deal Brexit threatens holiday flights, pointing out the UK government and EU insist flights will continue.
UK consumer magazine Which? picked up on a claim by airline association Iata that “up to five million plane tickets could be cancelled in a no-deal Brexit” and accused airlines of failing “to warn customers”.
Which? editor Rory Boland cited easyJet as an example when he told London’s Evening Standard: “Airlines should be more upfront that some flights may not be able to depart.”
But Lundgren insisted: “The EU and UK have committed to ensure flights will continue in the event of no deal.”
Iata director-general Alexandre de Juniac acknowledged last week: “Current flight levels will be protected even with a hard Brexit.”
But Iata said an EU note that no deal could lead to a cap on capacity meant “up to five million extra seats scheduled for 2019 are at risk”. Airport association ACI Europe also warned about a possible “capacity freeze”.
However, Lundgren told Travel Weekly an EU cap “would not have any impact. We will not be affected by this cap.”
EasyJet, like other carriers, has taken steps to operate under both UK and EU air operators’ certificates [AOCs], registering 130 of its aircraft in Austria.
Chief financial officer Andrew Findley explained: “To continue flying intra-EU routes we transferred 130 aircraft into the EU AOC and reduced our UK AOC flying.”
But he said: “Our UK flying is pretty much unchanged and growing.”
Yet the Iata warning was picked up widely by UK media including the Liverpool Echo which reported: “No deal Brexit puts up to five million flights at risk and will hit summer holidays hardest.”
Amber Road chairman and former Advantage Travel chief John McEwan slammed that story as “scaremongering of the highest order”.
But DER Touristik UK chief executive Derek Jones responded on Twitter: “There is some truth in it. Iata has confirmed flight numbers to the EU could be capped.”
The EC confirmed in December: “In case of no deal, EU legislation . . . [will] allow all European airlines to continue to operate basic air routes between any member state and the UK”.
It noted at the same time its right of “adjusting the allowable capacity” in the event access to the UK was restricted.
The UK government confirmed in September that EU airlines would be permitted to fly to and from the UK as now.
Industry bodies welcomed December’s clarification. Airlines UK noted: “This is clarity flights will continue in the event of no deal.”
The Airport Operations Association said: “Travellers can rest assured there will be no disruption.” Travel association Abta insisted: “Travellers can continue to book with confidence.”
UK transport secretary Chris Grayling repeated the assurance in a letter to independent tour operators’ association Aito last week.
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