Planes may be unable to fly on day one of Brexit, says Philip Hammond

Posted On: 
11th October 2017

Air traffic between the UK and the EU could "theoretically" come to a halt on Brexit day, Philip Hammond has warned.

Philip Hammond was being questioned by the Treasury select committee
PA Images

The Chancellor told MPs while the case would not be one which “anyone would seriously” consider likely, it was nonetheless a “worst case scenario”.

The head of budget airliner RyanAir, Michael O'Leary, has already claimed thousands of flights could be cancelled in the months after Brexit day unless the two sides can agree a replacement for existing aviation regulations.

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Mr Hammond told the Treasury Select Committee this morning that air travel was one area which could be affected by a "no deal" scenario. 

 “It is theoretically conceivable that in a no deal scenario there will be no air traffic moving between the UK and European Union on 29 March 2019 but I don’t think anyone seriously believes that is where we’ll get to," he said.

“So there are a range of outcomes. What we will need to do at a point in time is determine what a realistic worst case scenario that we need to plan for and invest for.

“On that specific point it’s very clear that mutual self-interest means that even if talks breakdown, even if there is no deal, there will be a very strong compulsion on both sides to reach agreement on an air traffic services arrangement."


While both sides have stressed they want to come to an agreement on a future relationship, European Council president Donald Tusk warned yesterday that a 'no deal' outcome could be more likely without more progress by the end of this year.

"The EU is not working on such a scenario. We are negotiating in good faith, and we still hope that the so-called ‘sufficient progress’ will be possible by December," he said.

“However, if it turns out that the talks continue at a slow pace, and that ‘sufficient progress’ hasn’t been reached, then – together with our UK friends – we will have to think about where we are heading.”