Transport Secretary offers assurances on post-Brexit 'no-fly zone'

15 October 2018 08:54

A no-deal Brexit could ground planes in the UK

A no-deal Brexit could ground planes in the UK

Chris Grayling has given his "categorial assurance" to Parliament that a no-deal Brexit will not ground flights in and out of the UK, despite recent warnings from experts that this remains a possibility.

The Transport Secretary's statement comes just two weeks after Whitehall warned passengers that they could face flight disruptions if the UK fails to reach a deal with the EU.

Brexit impact papers published by the Department for Transport (DfT) on September 24 warned that airlines will have to obtain individual permissions to operate between the UK and the EU in the event of no deal.

Grounded

The DfT paper stated: "It would not be in the interest of any EU country or the UK to restrict the choice of destinations that could be served, though if such permissions are not granted, there could be disruption to some flights."

However, in his statement to Parliament, Mr Grayling said: "There is nothing the Government has said or done to imply that planes will be grounded or there will be no flights after we leave the EU.

"I give this House categorical assurance flights are going to continue."

Labour MP Lilian Greenwood, former shadow transport secretary, accused Mr Grayling of "mishandling" the issue, since his first assurances in 2016 that planes would not be grounded.

The MP for Nottingham South said: "A year later there was no evidence of progress and he assured us there was no danger of planes being grounded by a no-deal Brexit.

"Another year on and it's clear from the Government's own technical notices that this is a real possibility. How can we reach any other conclusion than that this matter has been badly mishandled?"

Agreements

Flights between the UK and 17 non-EU countries, such as the US, Canada, Switzerland and Iceland, currently operate through the UK's membership of the EU.

The UK has already reached agreements with a number of these countries and the Government says it remains "confident the remaining agreements will be agreed well in advance of the UK leaving the EU."

However, separate Government document warned that UK passengers may have to undergo extra security screening when changing flights in the EU following Brexit.

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