British airways, IAG, Virgin, airlines, Brexit, USA, UK, EU, open skies, flights, 2019
Image: British Airways / IAG

UK and US agree post-Brexit open skies

But any airline not owned and controlled by UK nationals that wants transatlantic routes after Brexit will need a waiver from the US.

The UK’s transport secretary, Chris Grayling, has announced the conclusion of a new post-Brexit ‘open skies’ air services arrangement with the United States.

He said that the deal ensures the UK “remains one of the world’s leading aviation hubs” for both travellers and businesses after the country leaves the European Union.

The arrangement will replace the existing EU aviation agreement with the United States as the UK continues to seek national ties with countries around the world independent of the EU.

Grayling said the deal would guarantee the continuation of vital transatlantic routes used by tens of millions of passengers a year, ensuring ease of travel and maintaining the choice that already exists on UK-US routes.

“It also protects our £50 billion trading relationship between our two countries that is supported by air travel,” he said.

However, any airline that is not owned and controlled by UK nationals that wants to offer transatlantic routes after Brexit will need to seek a waiver from the US government, the BBC reports.

Country by country
The deal with the US is one of only nine bilateral air transport arrangements secured by the UK to replace the US-EU open skies treaty. The others are with Albania, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Kosovo, Montenegro, Morocco and Switzerland, while talks with Canada are said to be at an “advanced stage”, according to the UK.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways owner IAG, which is nevertheless registered in Spain, described the UK-US open-skies deal as “a significant positive development which we welcome”, which “facilitates strong competition and is clearly pro-consumer”.

Virgin, meanwhile, is in the process of becoming non-UK majority owned as Sir Richard Branson tries to cut his stake in Virgin Atlantic to 20% by selling a third of the business to Air France-KLM.

Related stories

Brexit: Doom or boom for the airlines?

Airlines in US and Brazil move closer

Australia and India agree open-skies deal