Govt urged to secure “open skies” agreement early in Brexit negotiations

An agreement securing current freedoms for UK airlines to fly in Europe and beyond must be reached urgently during Brexit negotiations to ease job fears and end uncertainty in the industry, Unite said today (Thursday 23 March).

The call from the country’s largest union, which represents 65,000 people working in the airline industry, follows media reports that European Union officials have told airlines to move headquarters and the majority of shareholders to the EU to continue flying routes within Europe.

Warning that such a move could lead to UK airlines operating under ‘flags of convenience’ UK and hit funding to the Civil Aviation Authority, Unite called on UK ministers to ensure the UK continued to be part of the ‘open skies’ agreement after Brexit.

Commenting Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said: “The UK airline industry is inextricably linked with its European counterparts and critically has the freedom to fly within Europe through the open skies agreement.

“The UK government must secure these current freedoms for UK airlines as a matter of urgency in upcoming Brexit negotiations to ease job fears and stabilise confidence in the industry.

“A failure to do so, risks airlines moving their headquarters and operating under ‘flags of convenience’ in a move which will hurt jobs and slash funding for the Civil Aviation Authority which gets much of its money from airlines registered in the UK.”