UK transport secretary Chris Grayling insists there is "no way" that flights between the UK and mainland Europe will be grounded after Brexit, but he admits that "disruption" could occur.
Speaking at the Airport Operators Association annual conference in London today, Grayling said it was "theoretically possible" that the European Air Safety Agency could "refuse", or delay, the certification of UK-registered aircraft after March 2019.
Grayling says the government always expected that Brexit negotiations with the European Union would go down "to the wire". The UK government is ready for formal talks to agree a post-Brexit regime "as soon as they [the EU] are ready", he adds.
The UK Department for Transport acknowledged in technical documents released last month that there was a risk of flight disruption if the EU did not give UK airlines permission to continue operating into continental Europe.
Grayling notes that the EU is keen to, at the very least, agree a "bare bones" aviation agreement, even in the event of a no-deal Brexit. He adds that "no one wants to see disruption of air services".
The government has "nearly finished" putting in place external air service agreements with third-party countries post-Brexit and will in the future seek to agree "new and improved" access to global markets, says Grayling.