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Brexit may force us to drop UK flights to Europe, says Ryanair boss

by The Travel Magazine
Ryanair B737-800

Ryanair may be forced to suspend its flights from the UK to Europe as a result of Brexit, its CEO has warned.

Michael O’Leary said that, while the prospects of such a move were remote, it was something that would have to be considered by March 2019 if the UK Government opts for what he called a “cliff-edge” Brexit.

The current open skies arrangement, whereby planes are free to fly across other EU countries’ airspace, “hinges on recognising the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice”, he said. Prime Minister Theresa May has already said that Britain would no longer be subject to its rulings.

Read also: Brexit – what it means for holiday makers – your questions answered

Mr O’Leary estimates it will take more than the two-year time frame from triggering Article 50, to put agreements in place with other European Union countries.

“In the airline industry we could be heading for a very difficult divorce with Europe,” he said. “There is a possibility, unlikely, but nevertheless a possibility, that there may be no flights between the UK and Europe in March 2019 if the UK walks off this cliff that they seem determined to walk off.”

He criticised the government for having no exit plan adding: “I don’t think they have a clue what they are engaged in.

“I’ve had a number of meetings in London in recent weeks where they are going to do a great deal for Britain, and then I got to Frankfurt and Brussels and Paris where they are determined to do Britain down, and I fear they will.

“We have to recognise the will of the people. They did vote in a referendum. However, they were fundamentally misled into believing they could leave Europe and nothing would change. Everything is going to change, and probably for the worse.”

Growth plans for the low-cost airline will now focus on areas other than the UK. The company will not create any more pilot or cabin crew jobs, or increase the amount of planes there due to the uncertainty.

He said new routes announced in Scotland on Thursday would use planes based in other EU countries.

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