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Post-Brexit aviation policy has failed UK carriers, it was claimed this week.
Many airlines are struggling to gain EU flight permits, while contending with European competition domestically, said one executive.
CEO of Jota Aviation Andy Green said the trade deal between the EU and the UK had created an “imbalanced playing field” which was “terrible” for domestic charter airlines.
“And we have not yet seen the full extent, because the pandemic has diluted it,” he told The Loadstar.
“You have a complete imbalance between what EU carriers can do and what UK operators can. For instance, we were working for Brescia-based Poste Italia until January, then they said they could no longer use us as we’re UK-based.
“Which was to be expected – but at the same time, Royal Mail is continuing to use Spanish aircraft.”
Central to the problem, says Mr Green, is that a “non-objection” policy works in some EU countries, which prevents foreign operators from gaining flight permits if a domestic airline objects.
The UK opted against introducing such a policy, with sources claiming the government was concerned about the impact on the country’s supply chains.
“It’s nonsense; carriers can only object if they say they will do the work instead,”said Mr Green. “‘Non-objection’ requires the foreign carrier to contact the domestic carriers to see if they both can, and want, to service the flight instead. We, the domestic carrier, either say we will – and we service the flight – or we won’t, and then the foreign carrier gets it… the supply chain is unaffected.”
According to some reports, since January, the UK charter sector has seen 70% of its business lost to EU counterparts, little has been done and there is growing anxiety over the future of the industry.
One source told The Loadstar customers said it no longer “thought it worth” approaching UK operators because of the difficulties associated with gaining EU permits, which even when granted can take two to three business days to be issued. Comparatively, EU carriers are reportedly able to obtain a permit from the UK Civil Aviation Authority in “hours”.
“That [Brexit] deal has been the worst of both worlds as it has increased competition in our domestic markets while cutting us off from Europe – that notion of ‘taking back control’ went out the window,” Mr Green said. “We are not against competition, but what we have here is not competition, it is an uneven playing field – if you’re a UK company, you’re screwed.”
In response, Jota, AirTanker, Cargologicair, Eastern Airways, LoganAir and Titan Airways have launched a campaign, Save UK Aviation Jobs, which is calling on government to implement the reciprocal practice of “non-objection”.
Without this, Mr Green worries for the future, and added: “Our pilots are sat on the ground doing nothing, watching these planes. This will cost jobs.”
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