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TUIfly Boeing 737 (photo: © Thorbjørn Brunander Sund, danishaviationphoto.com)

Brexit planning means lost business opportunities

Travel leaders say they regret the amount of time and money spent on planning for Brexit when they could have been doing other things.

Leading travel figures have spoken about lost business opportunities because of having to focus on planning for the various possible outcomes of Brexit.

The message from panellists taking part in WTM London’s ‘Travel leaders speak: UK travel markets – what to expect in 2019’ session was defiant perseverance, TTG writes. But they also confessed that a lot of time and money had been poured into planning for Brexit.

London Luton-based easyJet, for example, is setting up a headquarters in Austria to operate EU flights after Brexit and has given its pilots European licences.

“I believe and hope that common sense will prevail. […] The message from all the negotiations we’ve had with the Commission and dealing with governments is that even in the event of a hard Brexit there will be a bare bones agreement in place,” said Chris Browne, the carrier’s chief operating officer.

“Having said that, we decided two years ago we’d rather be in charge of our own destiny.”

She added: “The number of hours that have gone in to securing that structure has been phenomenal. And that is just to be able to do what we do today. I wouldn’t be sitting here so confident today had we not taken all those brave, big, bold decisions, though.”

So far, easyJet has not seen an impact on appetite to travel to Europe, Browne claimed, but “the sooner we get some certainty the better”.

Energy and effort
The main cost of the Brexit vote has been the “energy and effort” taken to “put in place that insurance policy when we could have been doing other things”, affirmed Andrew Flintham, managing director of Tui UK and Ireland.

“There’s definitely almost a lost opportunity. But we can’t let it get in the way of an optimistic future.”

The panellists agreed that the only option for businesses now is to maintain optimism.

“We haven’t let it get in the way of any investment decisions,” Flintham said. “The business is carrying on full steam ahead because it has to, and the world will carry on after April 1.”

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