IATA has urged the UK Government to shore-up its
international air connectivity by focusing on a cost-effective
expansion of Heathrow Airport and achieving early clarity on post-Brexit
"In building the post-Brexit world, the
prosperity of the UK will depend on the strength of its
connectivity—links with Europe and the rest of the world," said
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. "There is a
real challenge ahead. When the UK leaves the European Single
Market, it will also leave the European Common Aviation Area. And
when it breaks from the European Union, all traffic rights to the
rest of the world associated with Europe will also be thrown into
question. The basis of international aviation is bilateral air
services agreements. There is no WTO agreement to fall back on.
For that reason, I don’t see any alternative to a negotiated
IATA urged an early resolution for aviation in
the Brexit discussion.
"Time is precious. The Brexit clock is
ticking towards a deadline of March 2019. But the aviation
deadline is earlier. Normally passengers can book travel about a
year in advance. At a minimum, the flight schedules and seat and
cargo inventories must be available at least six months in
advance. So that puts the airlines’ deadline at October 2018—just
11 months from now," said de Juniac. "My message to all involved
is threefold: Get started. Don’t step backward—people will not
accept anything that turns back the clock on the achievements of
the EU Common Aviation Area. And, lastly, don’t underestimate the
amount of work ahead as there are intense political and commercial
interests at stake."
While much attention has been paid to air
service agreements, IATA urged action across a broad spectrum of
- Finding staffing, systems and process
solutions for a potential ballooning of customs transactions from
4.6 million/month to 21 million/month.
- Developing immigration solutions to
efficiently deal with the millions of travelers between the UK and
Europe should border control procedures become more cumbersome.
- Defining the relationship of the UK to the
European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
"The pressure is mounting, with passenger
numbers predicted to grow irrespective of Brexit. Solutions need
to be found quickly to ensure a smooth transition. With the amount
of work that needs to be done, there are good arguments to put
transition agreements in place," said de Juniac.
IATA urged the UK government to address severe
capacity constraints in the Southeast of the UK by expanding
"Heathrow is where expansion should take place.
I know the struggle to build a third runway has meant decades of
frustration. But the UK will be left behind in the globally
connected world if it does not come to a final decision and
implement it," said de Juniac.
The UK Department for Transport’s Draft National
Policy Statement notes that a third runway at Heathrow will create
GBP 200 billion in economic value and support up to 110,000 jobs.
"Expanding Heathrow is about building
prosperity. It should be a priority for the UK. And facing the
post-Brexit world makes it even more urgent," de Juniac said.
IATA did however caution that the cost of
expanding Heathrow needs to support its future competitiveness.
"I am not saying to build the third runway at
any cost. The original estimates of GBP 17 billion were completely
unacceptable. Heathrow Airport’s recently announced intention to
reduce that cost is a step in the right direction. Heathrow is
already the most expensive airport in the world from which to
operate. It is essential that Heathrow’s charges do not rise from
today’s levels. The construction of the third runway must enhance
Heathrow’s competitiveness, not destroy it!" said de Juniac. "In
delivering the third runway, Heathrow’s capacity issue will be
resolved for now. But achieving the right quality at the correct
price requires consultation with the airlines. And one idea from
the airline community that should be taken into consideration by
the government is seeking competitive bids from developers."
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