The Department for Transport has today released details of how travel could be affected if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
Following a no-deal Brexit, the UK would no longer be part of the EU’s single aviation market, which currently covers flights to and from the EU, and to other countries with which the EU has a deal, such as the USA and Canada. This creates the possibility of flights grinding to a halt following the UK’s withdrawal on 29 March 2019.
However, the EU has said it is open to a ‘bare bones’ aviation deal to maintain flying rights between the UK and EU. The UK envisages offering EU airlines the right to fly to the UK, and expects reciprocal steps from the EU – but notes that ‘there could be disruption’.
As a back-up, the UK government is speaking to the individual member states about establishing bilateral agreements for aviation, based on pre-existing arrangements. However, some of these agreements are out of date, and in the case of the UK’s agreement with Spain, have been terminated. And while country-to-country flights could continue under bilateral agreements, intra-country flights by foreign carriers could not.
For passengers travelling outside the EU, the government says it is ‘confident’ of having deals in place by exit day to cover the 17 agreements that are dependent on UK membership of the EU, including Canada, Morocco and the USA.
Aviation safety in the event of a no-deal Brexit
Another potential implication is that UK passengers face disruption when travelling through EU airports.
As a result of a no-deal Brexit, the EU may no longer recognise the UK’s safety clearances, meaning that British passengers will need more time between flights in order to be rescreened.
The government has also said that the role of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) which monitors and regulates aircraft safety in the EU, will be transferred to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Road travel after Brexit
Those driving to the EU, or travelling by bus and coach, will also be affected in the event of a no-deal withdrawal. UK motorists would need to carry their Green Card – proof of insurance cover – to travel in the EU. Although it’s free of charge, insurers may impose an admin fee to issue this evidence for motorists taking their car abroad.
And pet owners have been warned that those who want to take their dogs or cats on holiday in the EU may need to prepare for travel at least four months in advance of the date they wish to travel.
Coach travel is at particular risk, as there are no automatic access rights in the event of a no-deal Brexit, potentially affecting the 1.7m trips that take place between the UK and EU each year. The government is trying to join an international agreement (Inter-bus) that would mean occasional coach services, such as coach holidays and tours, could still go ahead. But the situation is more complicated for regular coach services, such as those operated by National Express, which this would not cover.
The government is advising UK operators that they ‘may wish to consider contractual terms to allow sub-contracting to EU companies’.
No-deal a bad deal for UK passengers
Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive of Which?, said:
‘From grounded flights to bus trips that can’t make it across the Channel, and UK driving licences becoming worthless in Europe, it’s clear that a no-deal Brexit could cause chaos for anyone who travels. It will potentially leave tourists stranded abroad and make holidays more expensive and inconvenient for millions of people.
‘The government must agree a deal with the European Union to prevent a disaster scenario for consumers that could see their rights effectively snatched away from them.’