The no deal papers: why no deal could mean lots of little deals on travel

25 September 2018

In the last few weeks the government has published a range of documents with information to allow businesses and citizens to understand what they would need to do in a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario. A new batch came out yesterday, prompting a number of headlines about the impact on travel.

We’ve picked out three of the key travel-related areas to explain the guidance in a bit more detail.

It’s possible that UK-EU flights, bus routes, and airport security could remain largely the same in a no deal scenario, but this relies on the government forming lots of smaller mutual agreements with the EU to ensure continuity.

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Any airline licensed by an EU or European Economic Area (EEA) country can operate any route within the EU/EEA area. This is because it is part of the internal market for air services.

If we leave the EU with no deal, we would no longer be part of this automatic agreement on airlines. So UK-EU and EU-UK flights could be grounded, unless airlines gained individual permission to operate between the UK and EU. Likewise, EU operators could not operate UK-UK routes (and vice versa) without gaining permission first.

This scenario wouldn’t occur if the government came to an agreement with the EU or with individual countries within it. The government says “In [a no deal] scenario the UK would envisage granting permission to EU airlines to continue to operate. We would expect EU countries to reciprocate in turn.”

It adds “In order to ensure permissions were granted and flights continued, the UK’s preference would be to agree a basic arrangement or understanding on a multilateral basis between the UK and the EU.” The EU has previously said it wants something similar in a no deal scenario.

We also have agreements on airline routes with 17 non-EU countries though EU membership. These would cease to apply under no deal, but the government says “replacement arrangements will be in place before exit day.”

Airport security checks

Airport security procedures could stay the same if we leave with no deal, as EU security regulations will be transferred to UK law, but this also relies on a level of agreement and cooperation with the EU.

UK aviation safety standards comply with the EU minimum and have additional measures on top of this, meaning “there is no reason for the UK’s aviation security regime not to be recognised by the EU as equivalent”, according to the government. The government says this would mean no additional security restrictions are needed in the event of no deal.

If the EU chose not to recognise the UK’s standards, the government says most passengers still won’t notice a change. The exception they pick out is passengers travelling from the UK who transfer to another flight at an EU airport. These passengers would need to be rescreened, along with their luggage.

Buses and coaches

The “Community License”, which enables UK bus and coach operators to make journeys to and from the EU, would no longer be automatically recognised by the EU in a no deal scenario—if it was issued by the UK.

The government says that EU countries could recognise that the “Standard International Operator’s Licence”—which UK coach and bus operators must have for all international journeys—is equivalent to the EU Community license, but this cannot be guaranteed.

The UK would cease to be part of the “Interbus Agreement” which allows EU operators to “carry out occasional services” in seven non-EU eastern European countries. However, it intends to re-join as an independent member either by 29 March 2019, or as soon as possible thereafter. The government says it can’t be guaranteed that the agreement would be extended to cover more regular services.


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