Since the passage of the Brexit referendum by voters in the United Kingdom on June 23, 2016, political leaders in the UK and the European Union have engaged in extensive negotiations concerning the UK’s pending withdrawal from the EU. The precise impact of the upcoming political separation upon the aviation industry in the British Isle remains unclear. Yet this month, the news media learned one discount Irish airline has already taken steps to ensure the company can continue operating routes within the UK regardless of the outcome of high level Brexit negotiations.
Ryanair in The UK
Early in January, 2018, Ryanair confirmed it had indeed applied for an aviation license from the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority (“the CAA”) during December. The grant of a UK Air Operator’s Certificate would enable the Irish company to continue providing air travel along its existing routes within the British Isle. Presumably, flights will continue without disruptions even if political leaders don’t address aviation issues during Brexit negotiations.
Ryanair currently conducts limited flights within the United Kingdom. It maintains s total of three domestic routes inside the UK, accounting for only 1/50th of the airline’s annual revenues. However, on December 21, 2017, the company’s subsidiary Ryanair UK took the precaution of applying for a license from the CAA. The UK will officially separate from the European Union on March 29, 2019.
Critical of Brexit
The Chief Executive Officer of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, has cautioned the public about possible disruptions in air travel as a result of the passage of Brexit. In October, 2017, he complained about the absence of clarification regarding aviation in Brexit discussions. He expressed the hope the Brexit talks would produce clear information about this topic at least by the summer of 2018, when airlines such as Ryanair plan to publish information about passenger flight schedules for the coming year.
Ryanair recently disclosed the company transported a total of 129 million passengers during 2017. The budget airline has witnessed a marked increase in business between December, 2016 and December, 2017. Last month, Ryanair carried some 300,000 more passengers than it transported during the previous December.