UK and US agree new open skies arrangements after Brexit
29 / 11 / 2018
The UK and the US governments have agreed an ‘open skies’ air services arrangement that will safeguard flights between the two countries after Brexit, when the UK leaves the European Union (EU) in March 2019.
It is one of nine such arrangements already agreed by the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) with smaller countries around the world, "guaranteeing the continuation of vital routes" said a spokesperson for the department in London.
UK transport secretary Chris Grayling announced the conclusion of the open skies deal with the US, saying it would ensure that the UK "remains one of the world’s leading aviation hubs after Brexit for both travellers and businesses".
The arrangement will replace the existing EU aviation agreement with the US, as the UK continues to "cement global ties" in preparation for future global trading relationships outside of the EU.
The DfT spokesperson that the arrangement will "guarantee the continuation of the vital transatlantic routes used by tens of millions of passengers a year, ensuring people can continue to travel easily between the UK and US and maintaining choice and good value travel.
"It also protects our £50bn trading relationship between our two countries that is supported by air travel."
The spokesperson added: "Today’s announcement shows that the UK is open for business and is another positive step forward as the UK continues to develop as an outward looking global player with other major economies around the world, ready to capitalise on a rich range of new global aviation and business opportunities."
The deal ensures that planes flying from the UK will continue to enjoy the same access they currently have with the US, ensuring that the UK "maintains its place as Europe’s most important aviation hub".
These arrangements will allow airlines to continue to operate undisturbed and aid the development of new services for the future.
Grayling said: “The UK and United States have a special relationship which has helped shape the modern world and there is no better example of this than in aviation.
“Our transatlantic flights have helped to bring our countries even closer together, strengthening our ties and boosting our economies.
“This new arrangement and those concluded with eight other countries around the world are proof that the UK will continue to be a major player on the world stage after we leave the EU.”
Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, which includes British Airways and Iberia, said: “It’s critical that Britain maintains full access to international aviation markets so it can continue to develop its global trading links. This agreement is a significant positive development which we welcome.
“The agreement, which closely follows the Model US Open Skies Agreement, facilitates strong competition and is clearly pro-consumer. The US is a major destination for British businesses and tourists while the UK welcomes many American visitors to its shores”.
The signing comes as discussions regarding a new bilateral air services arrangement with Canada reach "an advanced stage" and is one of nine new bilateral arrangements the government has already concluded with countries around the world, including Albania, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Kosovo, Montenegro, Morocco and Switzerland.
In addition, the DfT said that the political declaration agreed between the UK and EU provides for a comprehensive air transport agreement to ensure connectivity for passenger and cargo flights through market access for UK and EU airlines.
The UK government will now work closely with industry to "continue to look for opportunities to expand our global aviation network even further and remains committed to a competitive and liberalised aviation sector".
The DfT added: "The government’s commitment to growing and investing in the aviation sector remains strong and the aviation strategy, due to be published shortly, will build on today’s announcement outlining a range of new measures that benefit the environment, passengers and businesses across the UK."
Tim Hawkins, chief strategy officer, at airport operator MAG, said: “The Government’s new aviation deal with the US Government is hugely positive for passengers and businesses flying on US routes from our airports – because it gives clear reassurance on flights post-Brexit and provides an ‘open-skies’ agreement that will encourage competition and choice in the long term”