Ryanair may stop flights to and from UK by 2019

Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary has warned that the airline may have to stop flying to and from the UK from the end of 2018 unless a new post-Brexit aviation deal is agreed with the EU.

If Britain leaves the EU without a new trade agreement it will automatically leave the EU Open Skies air transport treaty. Any attempt to stay in Open Skies would require acceptance of principle of free movement and that disputes would be settled by the European Court of Justice. Failing that, Ryanair intends to relocate its aircraft out of the UK ahead of a breach. O’Leary said the airline could not wait until the last minute in 2019, but must make its relocation decisions by the end of 2018. Ryanair has already decided not to deploy any new aircraft in the UK this year or next.

O’Leary pointed out that any replacement deal would also be subject to the principle of free movement and would require the agreement of all 27 remaining EU states.

Last month the Association of British Travel Agents raised similar concerns in a short paper. A more broadly based analysis of the possible impact on British aviation is available from IATA.