On Wednesday afternoon International law firm Bird & Bird hosted a timely Webinar with key figures from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) discussing the current state of negotiations with the EU for a post-Brexit aviation deal.

David Kendrick and Christopher Street from the CAA, who have both been heavily involved in the discussions, spoke candidly and gave clarity – where there was clarity to give – with Simon Phippard and Lucy England from Bird & Bird.

The message to the industry has been, for many months, that any aviation deal would form part of any wider UK-EU trade deal, if there is to be such an agreement. While that remains true, this session confirmed that both sides do want to ensure there is a structure in place to maintain air connectivity after the end of the transition period.

Since the Webinar, and as that wider trade deal is looking increasingly unlikely, the EU has issued its contingency regulations for both air connectivity and aviation safety. What is certain is that some degree of air connectivity between the UK and the EU will be maintained regardless of the outcome of the negotiations.

Other areas questioned and discussed during the Webinar included dispelling the myth that not everything will be, or needs to be, done on day one; there will likely be a two-year period of laying down the new normal once the UK finally leaves at the end of the month.  

The UK is definitely leaving European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) but ideally there should be an arrangement put in place to ensure the UK continues to benefit from its own input into the Agency, and European aviation safety generally, over the last number of decades.

It was said that the concept and rules around ownership and control of air operators will certainly not disappear straightaway; Regulation 261 will be included in the UK statute books from 1 January 2021 and while consumer rights will continue to be important to the UK, we will now have the freedom to consider if that regulation is the right model for our consumer protection in the future.  

Marcus Pyke from Bird & Bird also commented on how cross-border leasing approvals will change after the end of the transition period.

Much more was discussed and the insights from those ‘at the coal face’ were invaluable. However, despite the intense months of talks that have taken place it remains unclear whether the UK and the EU will agree a wider trade deal and still whether an agreement on air safety and air services will be reached.

Bird & Bird has also recorded a video giving their thoughts on the impact of Brexit on the aviation industry.  https://watch.twobirds.com/bird-bird-caa-aviation-legal