US trade body Airlines for America has called for the aviation industry to be dealt with separately in Brexit negotiations, saying it is “absolutely essential” that new deals are struck with Europe and the US.

“If there is no agreement between the UK and EU by March 2019, other sectors fall back on World Trade Organisation rules but we have no legal framework under which to fly,” Nick Calio, the trade body’s chief executive, is quoted by the Telegraph as saying.

Divorce proceedings

He added: “Divorce proceedings have just started but the negotiators have a lot of issues to deal with and our concern is aviation getting lost in a sea of very important issues. The EU wants to negotiate one large agreement without splitting things out but we believe you have to separate aviation.”

“We believe you have to separate aviation.”

By Nick Calio, CEO, Airlines for America

The EU-US Open Skies agreement was signed in 2007, liberalising aviation between the two continents but when the UK leaves the EU, it will no longer be part of the agreement.

“It is absolutely essential that an Open Skies air transport agreement is put in place between the UK and the EU as well as between the United States and the UK,” Airlines for America said, adding both agreements need to be up and running as soon as the UK leaves the EU, or that transitional arrangements must at least be in place.

Flight cancellations

Meanwhile, budget airline Ryanair has warned that Brexit could cause it to cancel flights and move its planes out of the UK unless a new aviation deal with the EU is struck.