Five UK owners of Stansted, Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and London City airports, have joined forces to put pressure on the Government in the form of a report that suggests that passenger numbers are likely to fall when the country leaves the EU in 2019, if a deal is not in place by then.
The airports commissioned EPI Economics to produce the report, following concerns about the EU treaties that are currently in place that allow British airlines to operate internationally outside the EU.
The report highlights concerns that ‘without the security of guaranteed future access to the single aviation market, the greater the negative economic consequences will be.’
This backs up recent warnings from Ryanair, although other airlines have dismissed the likelihood of flights being affected.
Economists have gone further, and have issued a ‘worst-case scenario’ that suggests that the effects could be catastrophic for the aviation industry, with a drop in passenger numbers in 2019 that could total 8 million. A more conservative estimate gives a figure of 2.3 million, but the uncertainty that has surrounded the Brexit issue since the vote was cast has led to confusion and concern across all sectors of the aviation industry.
The report urges the UK Government to prepare to strike a deal with the EU by mid-2018, and suggests that passengers will wait before they make any holiday or travel plans, in case issues arise post-Brexit. As flight schedules are planned and sold up to a year in advance, the report stresses that clarity is necessary to enable airlines to plan too.
Heathrow airport remains confident that the UK Government understands the position of the aviation industry, and the contribution it makes to the country’s economy. Its plans for a third runway are still on the table, and it says that expansion will become more necessary after Brexit.