The UK Aviation industry is the largest in Europe and one of the largest in the world. It’s worth £60bn – that’s mostly through air traffic with continental Europe.
In a mini-series, we’re looking the most talked about Brexit aviation predictions and predications.
We’ve talked about the potential effect of Brexit on the Open Skies treaty and whether UK-based airlines will have to move to Europe. With the most recent talks in the Brexit timetable continuing this week, we explain why a 300 year old rock is getting in the way of aviation Brexit negotiations.
The rock in question? Gibraltar.
To refresh your mind with a brief geo-history lesson, Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, on Spain's south coast and is home to 30,000 residents – it also voted very strongly to remain in the European Union.
A long running Spanish- Anglo tug of war has now materialised as a significant sticking point in the UK’s search for a Brexit deal to preserve access to existing landing rights for its commercial aviation industry.
Spain argues that Gibraltar airport is illegally located on Spanish land
It’s an age-old argument, but now somewhat timely…
The argument says that in the 1713 agreement the town, castle and port of Gibraltar was ceded to Britain, but this did not include the rights to the spit on which the airport is built.
Spain has now allegedly indicated it could block UK landing rights in Gibraltar after Brexit unless the terms exclude Gibraltar’s international airport.
Gibraltar airport currently handles around nine arrivals a day, all of which come from either the UK or Morocco and three airlines use the airport: British Airways, easyJet and Royal Air Maroc.
In the draft negotiating guidelines for withdrawal talks under Article 50, it states: "After the United Kingdom leaves the union, no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without the agreement between the kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom."
What happens next?
In the past, the EU might have seen itself as a peacemaker between Britain and Spain. Now that Britain is set to leave, we can only watch as events unfold…
Next time, we look at what leaving the EU could be for the UK’s relationship with EASA.
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