British airlines would relinquish all flying rights to the European Union should the lack of a transition agreement persist after Brexit.
This was the stark warning issued by an EU official, a reminder of what’s at stake should no agreement be settled between negotiators from both sides of the fence.
The European Commission recently issued a notice to all airlines, relating that UK carriers would no longer benefit from traffic rights from any transport pact that the EU had.
Essentially, this would mean the end of British flights to any of the member states of the EU.
They would also give up flying rights under agreements between the EU and third countries, an example of which is the U.S.-EU Open Skies agreement.
EU-based carriers have had he right to fly to, from and within any country in the bloc, due to the single aviation market that was established in the 1990s. However, Britain now has less than two years to negotiate access or make an alternative.
British carriers include easyJet, British Airways, Flybe, Jet2 and Virgin Atlantic.
Budget airline easyJet has already started making moves to create a new airline in Austria to protect its flying rights within the EU once Britain leaves the bloc.
Officials of various airlines have been very vocal of the threat of a no-deal situation come Brexit and have expressed urgency on the matter.
Without a deal in place, airlines would have to lean on an ancient traffic rights treaty between the UK and EU states. These are usually more constricting and prevent airlines to fly within member states.
Britain and the EU settled on a divorce deal last week, paving the way for them to start negotiations on future trade ties and a two-year Brexit transition period that would commence when Britain leaves the EU on March 29, 2019.
But Brussels has ruled out an independent deal for aviation, saying that it would akin to cherry-picking.
The note also says EU carriers would lose their flying rights to or from Britain granted by a third country under any air transport agreement to which the EU is a party.
On a similar note, carriers originating from third countries would lose the right to fly to or from Britain under agreements negotiated by the EU.
U.S. airlines such as Delta, United Airlines and American Airlines have been petitioning the EU and Britain to finalize an agreement on aviation.
They fear that failing to do so could threaten the antitrust immunity given to their transatlantic joint ventures as well as their capacity to fly passengers to the EU via London Heathrow.