Boss of British Airways Dismisses Claim that ‘No Deal’ Brexit Will Ground Flights


Claims that flights could be grounded once Britain leaves the European Union without a divorce deal (including one from Chancellor Philip Hammond) was dismissed by the boss of British Airways.

The chief executive of the parent company of British Airways, Willie Walsh, displayed confidence that an agreement regarding air travel will be attained even if there is a “no deal” Brexit.

Speaking to MPs on the House of Commons Transport Committee, Walsh stated: “The prospect of there being no flying between the UK and Europe, I don’t agree with at all because it goes well beyond that.

“I think this would bring the whole of Europe to a standstill.”

The chief of the airline claimed that there are “technical ways of addressing any scenario” over the exit of Britain from the European Union.

His view was supported by Sophie Dekkers, easyJet’s UK director, and John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow Airport boss, who also provided evidence to the committee.

Emphasizing how negotiations have taken place behind the scenes between ministers and countries such as America regarding post-Brexit flight arrangements, Holland-Kaye said that he believed that no disruption to services would be experienced even after 2019.

“From an EU point of view it’s just as much in their interest to have continuity after Brexit as it is for us,” said Holland-Kaye.

He referred to the importance of air transport for trade between the European Union and the United Kingdom as well as the importance of tourism for various countries such as Spain, adding that “it is inconceivable they would have any discontinuity.”

At his own airport, Holland-Kaye revealed that Lufthansa, a German airline, has almost $1bn (£760m) worth of value that is linked to its landing slots at Heathrow.

“That’s not something they’re going to give up lightly,” said Holland-Kaye.

He added that there would be “pressure internally within the EU to make sure a sensible, pragmatic deal is put together” with regards to air travel even if Britain fails to agree on a transitional departure deal with the European Union.

Earlier this October the Chancellor warned that it is “theoretically conceivable” that the absence of a Brexit deal could observe no planes flying between the EU and Britain on the day the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

However, the chancellor added: “I don’t think anybody seriously believes that is where we will get to.”