Airports across Europe should lobby for Open Skies post-Brexit - LCY boss

The UK is not isolated in Brexit uncertainty, warns Bernard Lavelle

Brexit is a European problem which should encourage airports across the region to lobby for Open Skies agreements, the sales director of London City Airport has said.

Bernard Lavelle, speaking at Routes Europe 2017, warned that viewing Brexit as a UK problem would be a mistake.

"50 percent of UK traffic goes into Europe, but 10 per cent of European traffic goes into the UK. This is a European issue,” he said. “Transport is the enabler of trade, and aviation is a key part of that. Without aviation, the whole of European trade will be affected.”

"The UK government has said aviation is a priority. But do other EU member states feel the same way? I would hope my counterparts across Europe are having the same lobbying discussions with their governments that we are."

Also speaking on the panel was Professor Keith Mason from the Centre for Air Transport Management, Cranfield University.

He stressed how beneficial the EU has been in the rise of European aviation.

“When I did my PhD there were 1,000 routes within Europe,” he said. “Today Ryanair has nearly 2,000 routes within Europe - the EU has been absolutely fantastic for aviation. The benefit has been to customers.”

Mason also warned that Brexit could have other impacts, including domestic UK aviation and airline ownership.

"For those UK airlines which have a lot of domestic travel, they might be affected if Scotland stays within the EU,” he said.

"We have issues with airline ownership; look at IAG. Could we see British Airways no longer being a British airline?"

Despite the uncertainty, Mason said that aviation could treated as a special case by both the UK and EU and remain untouched.

Fellow panellist Gordon Dewar, the CEO of Edinburgh Airport, said that with the right approach any challenges can be overcome.

"The biggest risk is under-selling ourselves with politicians,” he said. “We can't be bringing problems to them; we need to be talking about our strengths and solutions."

"It's about a willingness to make this work. We're going to need to ride the wave, but ultimately I'm optimistic that we'll end up with Open Skies."

Brexit slide