UK pilots urge end to Brexit ‘licence inequality’

More than 3,500 UK pilots have written to the government to highlight an unfair system that means UK pilot licences have been “seriously degraded in value and utility” following Brexit.

The new rules have actively prevented UK pilots, including those made redundant due to Covid-19, from securing UK jobs, they argue.

The letter from the British Airline Pilots’ Association to transport secretary Grant Shapps calls for ‘the UK to re-secure the swift and cost-free mutual recognition of European pilot licences.

Those with UK pilot licences are no longer able to fly EU registered aircraft – including those based at UK airports – without a lengthy and expensive licence conversion following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, pilots

This is an active barrier to UK pilots being offered jobs, the union claims.

However, pilots with EU licences are able to fly aircraft registered in the UK, giving them an advantage in applications.

Balpa says the government “has done little to even raise this contradiction with the EU” despite the pilots’ union stressing that a reciprocal arrangement would open up job opportunities to the thousands of UK registered pilots made redundant due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Acting Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said: “There are thousands of out-of-work pilots with highly-respected UK licences, unable to take up positions with airlines registered in Europe but flying in and out of the UK. Yet pilots with EU licences are able to fly for UK registered airlines.

“This is an anomaly missed by the government during the negotiations that needs to be resolved. It worked perfectly for both pilots and airlines across Europe prior to Brexit. Ministers need to aim higher in their discussions on it with their EU counterparts.

“Pilots want the government to stand up for their profession and help them get back flying rather than relying on furlough or struggling with redundancy.”

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