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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 15 February 2019

IATA warns up to 5 million UK-EU flight seats at risk from no-deal Brexit

Aviation trade body says measures are needed to prevent cancellations and delays

Alexandre de Juniac, director general of the International Air Transport Association, called on UK and EU to find a solution that brings certainty to airlines planning growth to meet travel demand. Victor Besa / The National.
Alexandre de Juniac, director general of the International Air Transport Association, called on UK and EU to find a solution that brings certainty to airlines planning growth to meet travel demand. Victor Besa / The National.

A forecast of five million extra flight seats between the UK and European Union in 2019 is at risk if Britain leaves the bloc without a deal, the International Air Transport Association warned.

A no-deal Brexit scenario will cap additional UK-EU flights this year, which could lead to higher prices for travellers and uncertainty for airlines, the airlines' trade body said in a statement on Wednesday.

"In the small window remaining before Brexit it is imperative that the EU and UK prioritise finding a solution that brings certainty to airlines planning growth to meet demand and to travellers planning business trips and family holidays,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.

IATA estimates that up to 5 million extra seats are scheduled for 2019 compared to 2018 between UK and EU to meet travel demand, many of which will fall in the peak summer season when families book holidays, and this growth is at risk without a Brexit agreement.

Measures to continue operating UK-EU flights for a year based on traffic levels of 2018 do not take into account the additional growth forecast for 2019 and therefore flights will be cancelled or delayed once traffic exceeds the 2018 levels, Mr de Juniac told reporters in Dubai last week. With less than two months before Britain is set to leave the EU on March 29, a no-deal Brexit is looking more likely. The European Commission earlier said it adopted a proposal for regulation to ensure basic air services between the UK and EU for 12 months.

"That current flight levels will be protected even with a hard Brexit is an important assurance. But with two months left until Britain leaves the EU, airlines still do not know exactly what kind of Brexit they should be planning for," Mr de Juniac said. "There is legal and commercial uncertainty over how the Commission’s plan to cap flight numbers will work."

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Updated: January 16, 2019 05:31 PM

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