11 JANUARY 2021
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New traffic rights between the United Kingdom and EU began on 1 January.
Under the new arrangements UK airlines can fly anywhere from this country to the EU and vice-versa with no limits on traffic, capacity, frequency, routing or otherwise. Many of the low-cost carriers (LCC), which owe their growth and indeed existence to the single market, have subsidiaries and Air Operators Certificates (AOC) in place in order to help smooth matters. All airlines are subject to individual airport operating hours including night flights.
Country-level bilateral agreements are not needed.
But there are major changes, including:
No seventh freedom or cabotage rights: no longer can a UK airline fly between or within EU countries, and no longer can an EU airline fly within the United Kingdom.
All-cargo fifth freedom operations are subject to future negotiation.
Codeshare and block-space provision may enable UK and EU airlines to cooperate in the future to get around new restrictions.
To put it in perspective two-way seats between the UK and EU reached almost 189m in pre-coronavirus 2019. Between 2011 and 2019, they were up by 38%, an average annual rise of 3.6%, with 52m seats added.
The most significant point, about no longer having access to the EU’s single market, has been circumvented by the most exposed operators.
This is through the creation of new subsidiaries with new AOCs, such as easyJet Europe, Norwegian UK, Ryanair UK and Wizz Air UK. Such carriers have grown significantly because of the EU’s single market and obviously they wish to continue to do so.
With these AOCs, Norwegian, Ryanair and Wizz Air can fly domestically within the UK and to non-EU destinations from the country. EasyJet Europe can fly across and within the EU. EasyJet Switzerland is treated separately
It is this that enables Wizz Air’s continued operation and growth from the country to non-EU places such as Egypt and Turkey, Norwegian’s London to US operations, and Ryanair’s intra-UK and Morocco, Montenegro, Norway, and Ukraine services.
Despite all of this, the UK and EU governments’ battle with coronavirus – including preventing or disincentivising travel – probably means little difference will be noticed in the short-term. The UK CAA has pointed out that Ryanair UK is a member of Airlines UK, but has a single Boeing 737 on the British aircraft register, out of a total 430 planes!
BTN is indebted to Anna.Aero for the above and the graph below.
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