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Basic UK-EU air connectivity retained under tentative deal

Council of the European Union representatives have reached a provisional agreement with the European Parliament on maintaining UK-EU air services, should the UK leave the EU without a post-withdrawal deal.

The Council, currently under a Romanian presidency, is the institution which represents EU member states’ governments.

It states that the provisional agreement – yet to be formally adopted by Parliament and the Council – would “mitigate the severe disruption” to airline connections if the UK undergoes a so-called ‘hard Brexit’, with no post-withdrawal deal in place.

“The agreement will enable UK-licensed carriers to provide basic air transport services between the UK and the remaining 27 member states,” it adds.

“These rights will be conditional on equivalent rights being conferred by the UK and subject to conditions ensuring fair competition.”

The Council stresses that the “exceptional” measures are “strictly time-limited”, adding that they are intended to preserve “basic connectivity” and not to replicate the current situation under which UK and other EU airlines operate.

Provisions will provide the right to continue scheduled flights under public service obligation for seven months, giving time for authorities to adapt.

“Limited codesharing and aircraft-leasing arrangements, including wet-lease, will be allowed under certain conditions,” says the Council.

If an EU-licensed airline ceases to comply with EU ownership requirements, as a result of the UK’s withdrawal, it will need to submit, within two weeks, a comprehensive plan detailing the measures to achieve this compliance.

The airline will have six months to meet the ownership criteria in full.

EU member states’ ambassadors are set to review the provision agreement when it is submitted to the Council’s permanent representatives committee.

Once approved, the agreement would remain in effect until 30 March 2020 – or sooner, if the UK reaches a post-withdrawal air transport agreement.

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