As the aviation industry grapples with the coronavirus crisis, it`s easy to forget that the little Brexit business is only a few weeks away. A new agreement between the UK and the EU, similar to the existing “open skies” agreement, seems to be the most likely option. This approach was intended to mitigate the effects of the UK`s withdrawal without a withdrawal agreement. It now seems reasonable to expect that from the beginning of 2021, the transition period will end without a new air transport agreement between the EU and the UK. The CAA has developed a microsite that should be a central source of information for the aerospace industry on what steps it should take to not prepare for UK-EU aviation security agreements and to have no mutual recognition at the end of the transition period. We will keep this microsite up to date during the negotiations. The UK`s position is to limit the ownership and effective control of EU airlines to the EU, the UK and their nationals, but has no restrictions on who owns and controls UK airlines that compete on routes to the EU. Under the UK proposal, an EU airline may be owned directly or by a majority stake in the UK and/or UK nationals. This would allow British airlines to circumvent the market restrictions associated with the agreement. In addition, the absence of restrictions on the ownership and control of British airlines would allow third-country airlines to take control of British airlines and enjoy the rights conferred by the agreement; Rights they would not necessarily enjoy through their own air agreement with the EU. The air transport sector is an important part of the UK economy, which contributes 52 billion pounds to the UK`s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016 and supports almost one million jobs. In 2016, flights to and from Europe accounted for 63% of all passengers who transited through UK airports.
Britain left the EU at the beginning of the year, but remains in practice under EU agreements and rules until the end of the transition period at the end of this year. The EU has also proposed regulations to extend by nine months, nine months after a Brexit without an agreement, the validity of aviation safety certificates issued by EASA to British companies for certain aeronautical products, parts and aircraft. It would allow, if necessary, further extensions. Britain could negotiate a similar agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina to reintegrate the ECAA as a non-EU country. British airlines would continue to enjoy all nine flight freedoms. However, this would require the unanimous support of each Member State. This is highly unlikely, as Spain has hinted that it will veto any agreement that includes Gibraltar International Airport. For aviation, flights could be grounded. However, it is more likely that a “Bare-Bone” agreement on traffic rights and safety rules will be reached.
It should be reiterated, however, that this is not an idea supported by the Court, unless it guarantees full harmonisation and the maintenance of harmonization of safety, employment, competition and consumer protection. Nor would the Court support the dilution of the AOC and other regulatory requirements that are maintained with the party concerned. Under this specific agreement, the European Commission should be empowered to carry out the audit and enforce this rule to EU-designated airlines, which would be in line with the EU proposal, which considers the EU as a single entity/contracting party to the agreement.