Gibraltar’s proposed entry into the European Union’s Schengen free-movement area offers a “historic” opportunity for the British Overseas Territory to develop its route network, according to business and tourism minister Vijay Daryanani (pictured).
A temporary agreement confirming freedom of movement between Spain and Gibraltar, located on the southern coast of the Iberian peninsula, was struck on Dec. 31, 2020—the day the UK officially left the EU. Negotiations to agree a final treaty on Gibraltar’s post-Brexit future began in October. A decision on that is due within the next three months.
If the talks are successful, it is hoped that Gibraltar will become part of the Schengen area, with Spain taking responsibility for Schengen immigration checks. Frontex, the pan-EU border force, would carry out land checks on the ground.
Daryanani said Gibraltar’s planned entry into the Schengen Area would benefit communities on both sides of the border, enabling the territory’s people to travel freely and provide an economic boost for the Campo de Gibraltar region on the Spanish mainland.
He said an agreement would make the territory more attractive for European carriers, allowing Gibraltar International (GIB) to expand its route network.
“It is very important, not only for Gibraltar but also for the shared prosperity that might be created in the hinterland into Spain,” Daryanani told Routes. “European airlines are very interested in Gibraltar because it’s a gateway to the region—there isn’t another airport withing a 50-km radius.”
Despite the impact of the pandemic, Gibraltar enjoyed a strong summer season in 2021 as the British territory was among a handful of destinations on the UK government’s travel "green" list.
As a result, new routes were added by BA CityFlyer from London City (LCY); Eastern Airlines from Birmingham (BHX) and Southampton (SOU); easyJet from Edinburgh (EDI); and Wizz Air from London Luton (LTN). In total, GIB was connected to nine UK airports during the season.
“The summer was extremely busy thanks to Gibraltar being on the UK’s green list—and at times was the only country on the list,” Daryanani said.
“We received a lot of coverage within the UK press for that reason—and also because we were one of the first countries to vaccinate our population. We therefore have a very good story to tell.”
Photo credit: Ocean Driven Media