TAIPEI, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Airlines need a clear view of how Britain’s exit from the European Union will affect aviation by October next year at the latest, the head of a leading airline industry body said on Wednesday.
“Brexit is not good news for aviation,” Alexandre de Juniac, head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), told reporters in Taipei.
De Juniac said IATA flagged immediately that aviation was a key sector and that talks had to be done quickly, but expressed concern that negotiations had not begun.
“We sell the tickets one year in advance, we put the programme in place six months in advance, so at the latest we should have a clear vision of what is going to happen in October 2018,” he said.
Flying rights are currently governed by EU-wide deals and because it is not part of the World Trade Organization, the aviation sector has no natural fallback arrangement to protect flights if there is no deal between Britain and the EU.
De Juniac also said he had warned Britain it would not be an easy process, because some countries may want to restrict access of its carriers.
“I told them if I were you, I wouldn’t be very comfortable because if I were the guy from France or Germany seeing that the UK based companies had problems,” he said. “Frankly it is good for Air France KLM and Lufthansa seeing if easyJet has problems with access.”
EasyJet has applied for an operating licence in Austria in order to protect its ability to fly between EU destinations once Britain leaves the bloc, while Hungary-based Wizz Air has conversely applied for a UK licence.
However, de Juniac added he felt the British authorities were now more pragmatic and open to a sensible deal. (Reporting by Jamie Freed; Writing by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Mark Potter)