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Published on Wednesday, November 18, 2020

UK-US sign deal to guarantee future of transatlantic flights


Transport minister Grant Shapps has signed a deal with the US to ensure that transatlantic flights to and from the UK will continue from 1 January when Britain's transition agreement with the EU comes to an end.

The air services agreement will replace the existing EU-US deal, which will no longer apply to the UK from 2021.

Mr Shapps described the agreement, which was also signed by US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and transportation secretary Elaine Chao as 'just one of many steps we're taking as we move towards a bright new future at the end of the transition period'.

However, it appears to be the same deal that was secured by his predecessor Chris Grayling two years ago.

And there is still no air service agreement between the UK and the EU, which throws into doubt the continuation of flights after 31 December.

Mr Shapps caused alarm when he told delegates attending ABTA's virtual convention last month that times was now tight for reaching a deal with the EU.


Pilots' union BALPA has called for the government to commit to agreeing an air service agreement with the EU even if wider free trade negotiations fail. General secretary Brian Strutton said this week: "The Prime Minister and the EU side simply must commit that whatever the outcome of these trade talks, an EU-UK air service agreement, providing as much freedom to fly as possible and with mutual recognition of licences, will be signed by both sides ASAP, and that planes will keep flying.

"To do otherwise would be reckless given the parlous state of this industry right now."

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said the government was 'confident' measures would be in place to continue air transport after the end of the transition period.


By Linsey McNeill, Editor (UK)

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