With the Brexit situation currently uncertain, it is impossible to say for sure how flights and travelling to the UK after Brexit will be affected.
Should the UK agree a deal with the EU, and have time to pass the required legislation before October 31st, the UK and EU will enter the transition period, and air travellers shouldn’t notice any disruption on Brexit day.
However, should the UK leave the EU with no deal in place, there is a possibility travellers could face some difficulties.
Airlines flying to the UK from Europe would need to obtain permission to operate in the UK, and UK airlines flying to Europe would need to do the same.
No one wants to ground flights between the UK and Europe, so the EU has adopted a contingency plan in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This aims to ensure ‘basic connectivity’ for flights between the EU and UK. The UK has promised to reciprocate.
However, this is a bare bones agreement, and temporary. Flights are capped at current numbers, so airlines may have to cancel any new routes that they planned to operate. And airlines who operate codeshare agreements may be affected as UK airlines would no longer be able to operate intra-EU flights.
While airlines, airports and governments are promising minimal disruption, we feel it’s important to note this is a complex area. Much of the UK’s aviation legislation is intertwined with EU law. That covers everything from commercial pilot licences, to airline operating licences and airline maintenance and safety certifications. All of which have the potential to impact flights across the EU after Brexit.
Some industry figures such as Ryanair CEO Micheal O’Leary have suggested flights could be grounded for weeks after a no-deal Brexit.
Should the EU and UK sign the withdrawal agreement, EU citizens travelling to the UK will have no change to the current entry requirements until the end of the transition period. The same will apply to UK citizens travelling to the EU.
However, should the UK leave with no deal, entry requirements may be different. In January 2019 the UK set out its plans for EU citizens coming to the UK in the event of no deal. This specified that, for a transitional period at least, EU citizens (including the EEA and Switzerland) would be able to come to the UK for visits, work or study, and that they will be able to enter the UK as they do now.
The biggest change is that visits will be limited to 3 months, unless you receive a European Temporary Leave to Remain.
It’s also worth noting that while the provision states EU citizens “will be able to enter the UK as they do now”, it hasn’t been confirmed that will apply to EU citizens entering the UK on national ID cards, so you may want to bring along your passport until that is confirmed.
There is a possibility that queues may build up if additional passport checks do come into effect. But both the UK and the EU promise they are hiring extra staff to avoid this.
But travel after Brexit will affect more than just the journey. There are other parts of your holiday experience that will be impacted if the UK leaves without a deal. For example, the European Health Insurance Card, which currently entitles EU citizens to reduced cost emergency medical treatment within the EU, may no longer be valid in the UK.
There’s been some concern that a no-deal Brexit could cause airlines to have to cancel flights. This is because the EU contingency plans, which come into effect if there is a no-deal Brexit, covers only current flights.
That creates a problem for airlines who have planned to operate new flights in 2019 and 2020 – many of them are already selling tickets for these flights too.
It’s important to stress that nothing has been decided yet, but if the UK does leave the EU without a deal, airlines may have to seek new permissions for their flights between the UK and EU, and if these permissions aren’t granted we may see flights cancelled.
Brexit Day is 31st October 2019, and the current situation is uncertain, simply because no deal has yet been agreed between the UK and EU which will cover air travel after Brexit.
UK government advice is that flights should continue to fly. Even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, both the EU and UK are determined to find a way to ensure there is as little disruption to flights as possible.
However, if you are nervous about the situation, you can avoid booking flights for the days immediately after Brexit, until the implications of the UK leaving the EU have become clear.
European air passenger rights will not be affected by Brexit in the immediate future. When you’re flying from another European country, or flying back to one on an EU airline, the EU regulation EC 261 will continue to apply to you, no matter what the Brexit and air travel situation is.
In addition, back in June 2018 the UK passed the EU Withdrawal Bill. This copied much EU legislation into UK law, including the current EU laws on air passenger rights.
That means that passengers in the UK whose flights are cancelled, delayed or overbooked would be entitled to the same compensation and assistance after Brexit as they would before.
Similarly, passengers with reduced mobility will be entitled to the same assistance from airports and airlines.
Once the UK leaves the EU, updates that the EU make to the regulations will no longer apply to passengers in the UK, unless the UK makes the decision to copy them. The UK may also decide to review the laws and make their own changes.
If the UK and EU can agree a deal then the period immediately after Brexit will be a transition period. That will mean no changes to UK and EU entry requirements – for the duration of the transition.
However, even if there is a no-deal Brexit, the UK has proposed that there will be no change to the entry requirements for EEA citizens, for a transitional period at least. But that will still mean changes for EEA passport holders planning to travel to the UK. Currently, they are free to visit and stay as long as they wish, but once the UK leaves the EU, stays will be limited to 3 months, unless you receive a European Temporary Leave to Remain.
Cinderella flights is the name given to flights scheduled to take off on October 31st when the UK is still part of Europe and be in the air at midnight when the UK has left.
If there is to be any problem with the aviation regulations, these flights will be the first to know of it.
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