Business travellers and tourists could be prevented from flying in and out of the U.K. as of March 2019, the chief financial officer of Ryanair warned on Tuesday.
If the U.K. government doesn’t strike any sort of deal with the European Union regarding flying regulations, airlines will have to stop their activities in the country, Neil Sorahan, the chief financial officer of budget airline Ryanair told CNBC.
“We need to get some kind of clarity on whether the U.K. is going to stay in the open skies (agreement). It looks like they’re not and if they don’t then we need to see some movements made in relation to negotiating bilateral agreements,” he said.
“If these bilateral agreements are not negotiated by October 2018 then the chances of being rectified by March 2019 are very slim, which means there’s a distinct possibility that there could be no flights in and out the U.K. for a period of time … days, weeks, months, we don’t know,” Sorahan warned.
The EU’s open skies agreement allows for all transatlantic routes to be opened up to EU and U.S. airline firms. Ryanair has been one of the most vocal firms against the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union. The Irish airline operates widely across the continent. Its chief executive officer, Michael O’Leary, has said that the airline is “pivoting” its operations towards Europe in the aftermath of Brexit.
The U.K.’s Department for Transport has previously replied to these concerns in February. It said it was committed to getting the “best deal possible” from EU exit negotiations.
“We will work closely with the international aviation community to ensure that this global industry continues to be a major success story for the U.K. economy,” the department said, according to the Financial Times.
Sorahan from Ryanair said: “Our biggest concern is that we have no certainty as we roll into this time next year and we are in a position where we’re in 12 months we have to start loading our summer schedule for 2019.”
Meanwhile over the weekend, British Airways saw massive disruption after its IT systems collapsed. However, Sorahan said that Ryanair has invested “an awful lot of money” into its IT systems and it is confident on their reliability.
“What happened to them appears to have been a hardware which was impacted by a power surge. We have our critical data over a number of data centers, so if one goes down, it would fall over to the other centers,” Sorahan explained.