Aviation ownership rules that threaten the flying rights of airline groups including British Airways owner IAG could be relaxed by the European Parliament in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
MEPs leading negotiations on contingency plans to cope with a hard Brexit are also attempting to scrap the automatic cap on flights between the UK and EU, which was proposed by the European Commission.
The changes are detailed in a draft report — seen by the Financial Times — setting out amendments that the parliament’s transport committee is demanding to an EU law that will allow “limited” air traffic to continue with the UK, even if it leaves the bloc without a deal on March 29.
The parliament has yet to approve these amendments and they could be removed in further stages of negotiation. But they are a striking divergence from the commission’s stricter positions.
Most EU member states have so far resisted relaxing ownership rules in their negotiations, but some are pressing for the EU to grant UK carriers a broader range of flying rights.
The contingency measures, as proposed by the commission, are limited to around a year, according to the FT.
Some European carriers will have to show they are more than 50% EU-owned and controlled to retain their flying rights in the bloc under Brexit.
The parliament’s amendment says that the commission “may grant a temporary exemption from the ownership requirement” lasting until the end of March 2020 as long as the airline has a valid operating licence and is less than half-owned by UK nationals.
But it also said the airline must present “credible plans to change its ownership structure in a shortest possible time to comply with the ownership requirement”.
The commission’s proposed regulation, announced last month, was designed to avoid severe disruption in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
But it also contained a provision to cap flight numbers between the UK and EU at 2018 levels, which the draft proposal would change.
EasyJet last week announced it had 49% European ownership.
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