Published on Wednesday, October 14, 2020

UK-EU flights could be grounded from 1 January if two sides fail to reach a deal

Grant Shapps caused alarm at ABTA's virtual Travel Convention when he revealed that the UK was yet to reach a deal with the EU that would allow flights to continue from 1 January.

With just 78 days to go until the end of the Brexit transition agreement, the Transport Secretary admitted the two sides were still trying to hammer out an aviation agreement.

Speaking to delegates from the Houses of Parliament, he said: "Negotiations as you know have been intensified in recent weeks, and although time's now tight, we remain hopeful that an agreement can be achieved.

"It's critical that flights between the UK and the EU can continue to operate as normal at the end of the transition period, regardless of the outcome of these negotiations."

If they fail to reach an agreement, Mr Shapps said he hoped the EU would bring forward contingency measures to ensure flights will continue. "Of course we would look to replicate that," he added.

ABTA Chief Executive Mark Tanzer said he was concerned by the Transport Secretary's remarks. "A year ago we had an agreement that rights would be in place; what Grant was suggesting was that we are waiting to see if it's in place," he said.

An early statement from Mr Shapps and the EU that we will still be able to access Europe was 'essential' he said. "People are waiting to book."

Eurostar train services are unaffected by the negotiations, said Mr Shapps.

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  • Fallback situation

    But surely, there is an existing legal fallback cover: "One fallback ....... would be provided by the existing bilateral air services agreements between the U.K. and the EU states, which have been overtaken by the EU single market but remain in existence, although currently largely dormant."

    By Tom Buncle, Friday, October 16, 2020

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