End of open skies agreement could hit British expats and the economy

Published:  16 Jun at 6 PM
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British expats living in popular Mediterranean destinations are at risk of being stranded if flights to Europe are affected by Brexit.

One Brexit issue which hasn’t had much publicity is the loss of the EU’s ‘open skies’ policy, which allows airlines operating from EU member states the right to fly over and to any other EU country without administrative problems. If a hard Brexit results from the negotiations, it’s possible UK-based low-cost airlines will no longer be able to operate. Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs is urging the UK government to provide a solution covering the end of the ‘open skies’ agreement.

Whilst it’s easy to dismiss his comments as scaremongering, it’s possible the EU may decide to make life tough for the UK and its citizens should the negotiations not go as expected. Taking this into account, Kenny’s take may well become reality and, as he says, ‘anything is possible’. Spain is a good example, as it’s home to a large number of Britons drawn by the Mediterranean climate and low cost of living. Should cheap flights be banned or badly disrupted, expat returnees who’d managed to keep on their Spanish properties would have difficulty in accessing them even for a holiday.

The problem originates in the rule that ‘open skies’ are regulated by the European Court of Justice, an organisation of which Theresa May is apparently not fond. Should Britain cut ties with the Court, open skies will be just a memory, as the previous bilateral agreements are now totally unworkable due to the expansion of flying as a means to travel directly and cheaply.

Kenny believes businesses would be badly affected as well and would be unable to find solutions as there are no specific regulations allowing flights between Europe and the UK. He said the post-Brexit scenario could vary between ‘no flying’ and ‘very restrictive flying’, either of which would hit hard on tourism-related businesses as well as other business sectors and the British economy in general. He added the UK divorce is likely to become ugly and cause unprecedented problems, due mainly to the EU attitude towards Brexit.
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