We’ve had help answering this question from our friends at the Institute for Government.
Strictly speaking, if there is no deal then UK airlines would not have access to EU airports. However, both the UK and EU have said that even if there is no deal, they would hope to make arrangements to ensure flights are not disrupted.
However, airlines operating inside the EU (between member countries like France and Germany for example, without going through the UK) will have to comply with EU majority ownership rules. These rules say that the majority of shareholders in an airline have to be based in the EU—UK shareholders will no longer count towards that threshold after 29 March 2019. In order to operate flights within the EU, air carriers with UK shareholders will have to change their ownership structure to ensure they meet that threshold.
For example, EasyJet has established a new branch, EasyJet Europe, in Austria in order to maintain full access to the EU market. The owner of British Airways, IAG, is reportedly in talks with European governments to ensure it meets EU and UK ownership requirements after Brexit.
EU agreements also govern flights between the EU (including the UK) and a number of other countries, like the USA. These also need to be renegotiated. The UK has been discussing these with relevant governments to ensure flights can continue and so far has signed agreements with the USA, Canada and eight other countries.
This article is part of our Ask Full Fact series on Brexit, answering your questions about Brexit and the latest negotiations between the UK and the EU.
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