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05 April 2017 08:51
Abta has called for an urgent aviation deal in the Brexit talks
The UK could face a "damaging" drop in flights if an aviation deal can't be sorted quickly in the Brexit negotiations, a travel trade group has warned.
According to Abta, airlines will have no fall-back option if no aviation agreement can be reached. The situation will be "critical" if existing deals are not either replaced or retained, the body said.
EU agreements currently underpin all of the UK's airline routes to the US and European Union.
If no deal can be reached on aviation, airlines won't be able to fall back on World Trade Organisation rules, Abta said. Instead, it suggested: " There is no international fall-back option, such as World Trade Organisation rules, that exists for the aviation sector.
"A reduction in the number of routes would be hugely damaging for holidaymakers, business travellers and visitors to the UK."
Prior to the June 23 in-out referendum on the country's membership of the EU, the group had warned that holidays could become more expensive in the event of a leave vote.
Leaving aside things like travel insurance which they buy before they fly, it's thought Britons spend billions on holidays to EU countries each year. In fact, Abta suggests the annual total stands at £19 billion.
Speaking to the Press Association news agency, Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said he hopes that the tourism industry will be "very high" on the UK's list of priorities in the Brexit negotiations.
He added: "I honestly believe the Government know aviation and transport are one of the first areas they need to address. I'm sure there are lots of sectors who say 'we're the most important sector and we've got to be top of priorities', but for an island nation I really think the transport links are very important. Not just for tourism but for business and for cargo."
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