Post-Brexit aviation assurances given by Transport Secretary with deal still up in the air
By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 17 Dec 2018
Assurances have been welcomed over international travel come Brexit, with Humberside Airport bosses keeping a close eye on developments – and their airline partners’ reactions.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has insisted that the UK and the European Union do not want flights to be grounded after Brexit “in any scenario”.
He said he wants holidaymakers and businesses to have the confidence to book trips to and from the EU after the UK’s withdrawal.
Humberside’s fixed wing operations depend largely on a key link with Europe, with the thrice-daily KLM service to Schipol, Amsterdam, opening up more than 300 direct destinations worldwide. It said in its annual report that a no-deal exit could “heavily restrict services” to the UK by the Dutch flag carrier.
The Sunday Times has claimed civil servants have drawn up contingency plans advising families not to book holidays after March 2019 amid fears a no-deal Brexit could ground flights and cause chaos at ports and airports, leading a Downing Street spokesman described the claims as “categorically untrue”.
Mr Grayling has now written a letter to the aviation industry in an attempt to “provide some further reassurance and to be clear on our position”.
He said: “Both the UK and the EU have made clear their desire to ensure flights between the UK and EU continue in any scenario.
“I believe both the UK and the EU have a determination to retain the aviation links which bring such significant economic and cultural benefits for both sides.”
Mr Grayling, pictured below, added that he would work with the industry to discuss “what communications will be needed” to reassure passengers.
In its latest annual report, released in April, KLM had warned a no-deal could “heavily restrict services”. A response to the current likely scenarios is awaited.
The huge entity will celebrate its centenary next year, and there have been pushes to secure a fourth service to the international hub from Kirmington in recent times.
Deborah Zost, managing director at Humberside Airport, said: “The Secretary of State for Transport has given assurances to UK airports that both the UK Government and European Union have made clear their desire to ensure flights between the UK and EU are retained after Brexit in any scenario. We are constantly in dialogue with our airlines about the services offered and will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
At Grimsby’s Hops Travel, where Helen Thacker and Kathy Vine will be celebrating 35 years in business when Brexit is due to occur, there has been no drop-off in booking for Europe or elsewhere.
Kathy said: “Everyone in Britain is used to being able to travel easily to Europe, and while no-one knows what is going to happen, it is in the interest of every European city or resort to keep getting Brits there to spend their money. I don’t see there will be any problem at all.”
In its latest annual report, released in April, KLM had warned a no-deal could “heavily restrict services”.
The huge entity will celebrate its centenary next year, and there have been pushes to secure a fourth service to the international hub from Kirmington.
It comes with the UK set to remain part of the Common Transit Convention (CTC) after Brexit, limiting the friction on trade flowing across Europe.
The convention reduces the need for additional customs checks on goods passing through a country en route to their final destination.
The CTC covers the European Union, European Free Trade Association states Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, as well as Turkey, Macedonia and Serbia.
The UK has been invited to remain in the CTC even if there is a no-deal Brexit in March.
Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride said: "We are a great trading nation and our goods are in demand all over the world.
"That's why we are committed to ensuring that trade can continue to flow with as little friction as possible when we leave the EU.
"Membership of the convention will support traders both under a new trade agreement with the EU, or in the unlikely event of no deal.
"This gives businesses the continuity and certainty they need to plan for the future."
The CTC means goods do not need to complete import and export declarations each time they cross a new border and traders only have to make customs declarations and pay import duties when they arrive at their final destination.
The Government hopes it will make border clearances easier at key ports and airports.