Ryanair will have to cancel routes from the UK “for weeks or months” if an early Brexit deal on aviation is not reached, the airline’s chief financial officer has warned.
The suspension of flights from UK airports is a “very distinct possibility” without a replacement of the EU’s “open skies” agreement, Neil Sorahan said.
He told the Guardian: “In the worst-case scenario there will be no flights in or out of the UK to Europe for a period, for all carriers.
“There could be a situation where you’re going to have to get comfortable with staycations for the summer of 2019: those trips down to Portugal and Spain, unless you can swim, aren’t really going to happen.”
Currently Dublin-based Ryanair can operate out of the UK under Brussels legislation that allows all EU airlines and those in the “common travel area” to fly to and from countries that have agreed to the open skies pact.
However, the policy is based on adherence to European Court of Justice oversight and freedom of movement – two areas which the UK government is intent on breaking away from after Britain leaves the EU.
Sorahan warned that failing to reach a deal would be “disastrous”.
He said: “If there was a cliff-edge scenario with World Trade Organisation rules and no bilateral on open skies in place, there is a distinct possibility that there will be no flights for a period of time between Europe and the UK. The impact on business would be disastrous.
“Our message to Theresa May is: please make your mind up quickly and get a decision on an aviation deal and continue to keep Britain flying.”
Meanwhile Heathrow’s largest shareholder announced that it was freezing investment in the UK until the repercussions of Brexit are clear.
Chairman of the Ferrovial group, which also owns stakes in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southhampton airports, Rafael del Pino, said: “We do not invest more in the UK, but we do not divest either.
“Nobody, not even the UK, knows how the process and consequences will be carried out.”