The UK will need to establish a "brand new" open skies arrangement with the European Union following Brexit, Ryanair’s chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs has suggested.
Speaking today at Routes Europe in Belfast, Jacobs said the current open skies is governed by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), and because prime minister Theresa May has said the UK will not be under ECJ jurisdiction, a "brand new solution needs to be found".
This will also preclude the UK from adopting the Swiss and Norwegian “solution” because their own unique access to EU aviation markets is also governed by the ECJ.
“Both sides need to work on a brand-new arrangement that continues open skies. We think that will happen, but the question is when is that going to happen,” he adds.
Jacobs says that this means the continuation of the open skies will need to be “top of the agenda” in upcoming negotiations between the UK and the EU regarding the former’s “divorce” settlement from the European bloc.
The Ryanair executive warns that “it is important air travel isn’t disrupted and we don’t have a period of uncertainty, or we don’t have a period where you can’t have flights between the UK and Europe”.
Such a scenario is possible, he adds, because Brexit represents “unprecedented territory” and so far it “hasn’t been a rational process”.
He also forecasts that airlines will begin reducing capacity to the UK from spring 2018 following the country’s triggering of the formal process to exit the EU last month.
Jacobs says that three quarters of all UK leisure and business travel is to countries in the EU.