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Lake Tekapo
8 January 20213 minute read

BREXIT – Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom – key aspects for aviation

Air Traffic Rights
  • The UK no longer participates in the fully liberalized EU aviation market and UK airlines will no longer be considered as EU carriers. As a result, UK airlines can no longer enjoy the same level of traffic rights across EU airspace as they had until the end of 2020.
  • UK carriers will (continue) to be able to fly across the territory of the EU without landing; make technical stops in the territory of the EU for non-traffic purposes; and carry passengers and/or cargo on any routes between a given point in the UK and a point in the EU (so-called 3rd and 4th freedoms). However, the remaining traffic rights, as well as cargo and non-scheduled flights may be limited and require a specific assessment.
  • There will be no capacity, frequency and tariffs limitation only if based on discriminatory principles.
  • UK air carriers wishing to fly under this Agreement will no longer be considered as EU carriers and shall have to comply with certain conditions, namely, holding a valid license from the UK's competent authorities and complying with national ownership and control rules.
  • Specific rules apply to all carriers from the United Kingdom that, at the end of the transition period, were already owned or controlled by UK, EAA and Swiss undertakings or nationals. This rule should be interpreted from a grandfathering perspective as it will not be available to later changes in the ownership and control structure and have relevant consequences to nationals from a third state when shareholders.
  • The Agreement guarantees that airlines on both sides compete on an equal condition. The agreement's horizontal level playing field provisions, including those on social and environmental issues, will apply to aviation. However, the Agreement also includes specific provisions on issues such as ground handling and slots (non-discrimination and effective access), alongside provisions for the protection of passenger rights.
Passenger Rights
  • The level of protection of passengers travelling between the EU and the United Kingdom will be affected, as the UK will be a third country. This means that EU air passenger rights will apply differently based on the carrier nationality, points of origin and destination.
  • Effective measures are to be put in place to protect access to information for passengers, passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility, reimbursement and compensation, and the efficient handling of complaints.
  • The UK will no longer apply the EU's regulatory framework for aviation safety, and no longer participate in the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
  • The Agreement ensures that existing design certificates issued under EU rules before 1 January 2021 remain valid, so that products and designs covered by them can continue to be used.
  • The UK will no longer participate in EU ETS and flights to the UK will no longer be considered as intra-EU flights for such purpose.
Licenses Recognition
  • In respect of licenses recognition for pilots, maintenance technicians, engineers and maintenance providers, specific rules for licenses conversion and recognition were in place until the end of the transition period.