Brexit means Brexit, UK prime minister Theresa May infamously explained. What Brexit means for aviation and aerospace is far from certain.
What we know is that, following the June 2016 referendum and the triggering of Article 50, in less than 90 weeks’ time the UK will no longer be a member of the EU. Without a deal between London and Brussels, that could mean a departure from the open skies agreement that allows UK-based airlines and their passengers to fly anywhere within the bloc.
For aerospace manufacturers, it will end the UK’s membership of the customs union and their ability to import and export their products without tarrifs, quotas or border formalities. The remit of the European Aviation Safety Agency in the UK will similarly expire.Airline bosses such as Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary have warned of chaos if there is no settlement. The aerospace trade body ADS has likewise said a “hard Brexit” that leaves suppliers unable to access the single market would be a disaster for UK manufacturing.
Ministers, meanwhile, are resorting to that trusted wartime mantra: “Keep calm and carry on”. In other words, we cannot tell you much, but fear not – we have your interests at heart and it will work out in the end.
For many, patience with platitudes is running out. Industry needs visibility on what will happen after March 2019 now – not days before the Brexit deadline.