Europe’s biggest budget airline’s boss warned that Ryanair planes could start shifting from UK airports to the Continent ahead of Brexit.
Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive said that until an aviation deal is finalised between Britain and the EU, UK travellers would find their holiday flights are disappearing. “The deadline for the airlines is September-October 2018. We will start cancelling flights from six months before Brexit,” he said.
‘Open skies’ has been a great success story for the European population as a whole and specially for the British travellers. According to the deal, any EU airline has been able to fly between any two points in Europe for 25 years. It allowed easyJet and Ryanair to become aviation giants who vastly expanded their flying routes and also had budget fares.
But more than a year on from the “Leave” vote, no-one knows how the skies will look after Brexit.
The committee invited aviation leaders — from airlines, airports, and the plane maker Airbus — to Brussels to give their views on what could and should happen. Mr O’Leary was the most forthright, and pessimistic.
According to the aviation experts, if the UK does not change its policy, there will be major disruption to flights from April 2019.
“By September 2018 when your average British voter is sitting down to work out where he is going on his holidays in 2019, the two options he will have are to drive to Scotland or get a ferry to Ireland.”
Flights from post-Brexit Britain will start going on sale in nine months, but no one knows whether the planes will actually take off.
The national carriers contribute a small fraction of the aviation market on the routes between the UK and the major European countries.
Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA’s parent company, IAG, said he is confident that a deal will be finalised between the EU and Britain. The second round of Brexit talks are due to be held in Brussels next week.