LONDON – It has been around four months since the United Kingdom has left the European Union (EU) officially, having departed from the transition period on January 1.
Like with many other aspects of the country, this has been sure to affect the aviation sector. This piece will go into how it will affect the industry in the UK, and whether any negative downturn we see in the short-term will be beneficial in the long-term.
BREXIT has obviously been a very political endeavour taken out by the United Kingdom, which is why we first need to discover some of the many pros and cons of leaving the European Union, particularly in the context of aviation.
The Benefits & Drawbacks
One of the main thrusts for wanting to leave the EU was through retaining the country’s sovereignty. The same rule applies to aviation. With such a withdrawal taking place, it means that the United Kingdom is not bound by the rules set by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) (EASA, 2020).
This includes things like “safety associations, traffic rights, certification of aircraft and aircraft parties, among licenses of the crew” (Tulkki 2019, p. 1). Whilst it is a considerable amount of work to take on, it offers more flexibility in the regulatory process.
A drawback to this at the time was that there was a “resulting need to renegotiate the terms of the U.K.’s relationship with the EU” otherwise there would be “major consequences for EU-U.S and U.S-U.K aviation relations (Goldman & Schulte-Strathaus 2017, p. 3).
However, as the negotiations came to a close last year, the new open skies agreement between the UK and the US was made on November 17, 2020 (U.S Embassy & Consulates in the United Kingdom, 2020).
October last year also saw the threat of no flights operating between the EU and the UK if no deal was agreed (Vitolano, 2020). This had been discredited by many scholars however, dating back to 2019.
Wilkes explained that “UK and EU institutions will still be able to access each another’s clearing and settlement systems on the day after BREXIT, and planes will still be able to fly between the blocs” (Wilkes 2019, p. 6). So the question to ask is, was there deliberate brinksmanship at play?