It’s challenging

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

How long will it take to arrange agreements so that summer flights in 2019 happen?

There are lots of Brexit related thoughts concerning travel and tourism around at the moment. This morning, for example, at a Westminster Media Forum event on the UK tourism industry post Brexit if I heard the word “challenging” used by speakers once, I must have heard it twenty times.

It has a new definition. The word means having to do something but not being absolutely sure what that something is. It joins “courageous” (the Yes Prime Minister meaning of being “foolhardy”) as being one of the key political words of the last forty years.

Earlier in the week in the House of Lords, Baroness Randerson introduced a debate about open skies, a subject which could affect every passenger flying into and out of the UK. The issue is that the EU has an agreement in place with a number of countries including the USA, Canada, Israel, Jordan, Georgia, Moldova and Morocco. When the UK leaves new agreements will need to be in place or – in the very worst situation – there won’t be flights into and out of the UK.

That is very unlikely but that nothing is in place is worrying to tour operators and airlines because they will shortly be selling holidays and tickets for the period after the UK exits the EU. As a nation, we are used to our overseas holidays. Lady Randerson reminded peers that the UK has the third largest aviation network in the world, carrying 144 million passengers. Unlike withdrawing from the EU, there is no fall-back position. And it is worrying those countries that have a reliance on the British holidaymaker.

Last December a number of airport bosses met in Athens to discuss Brexit and they pointed out that at least 44 countries that are covered by EU agreements. How does the UK government arrange agreements in a little over a few months so that holiday companies and airlines can continue to sell tickets? Can one agreement be a template for all? You can buy holidays for 2019 so obviously tour operators and the airlines they contract with feel that the situation will be resolved in time for those holidays.

ABTA also is urging a quick agreement and long before the Brexit deadline which is under fourteen months away.
This week Chris Grayling told airline operators that there had been meetings with US officials but how far progressed they are he wouldn’t say.

At least the government in the guise of Lady Sugg has confirmed yet again that the existing consumer protection that Britons enjoy under the EU will be continued as those protection measures will be incorporated into UK law.
Everything else is up in the air – so to speak – at the moment!

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