Brexit presents opportunity for UAE airlines

Abdul Basit/Dubai
Filed on June 26, 2016 | Last updated on June 26, 2016 at 10.54 pm
Brexit presents opportunity for UAE airlines
Check-in counters at Terminal 2 of London Heathrow Airport. UAE carriers operate more than 168 flights a week to UK and around 920 flights per week to European destinations.

(Supplied photo)

Carriers may get more access to lucrative UK, European markets

UAE airlines might get more access to the lucrative UK market in the wake of the Brexit decision announced on June 24.

UAE carriers operate more than 168 flights a week to UK and around 920 flights per week to European destinations.

Despite the UK opting to leave the EU, there won't be any immediate change to any off the air service accords between the UK and UAE, according to a senior aviation journalist. Chief analyst at London's StrategicAero Research Saj Ahmad said around two years will be required to formalise the UK's exit from the EU, so until then things will carry on as they have done as usual.

"The UK and UAE can strengthen their bilateral air services without the choking interference of European policy makers... if bilateral talks happen, the UAE will gain more access to the lucrative UK market - and likewise, UK carriers will be able to compete with more flights to the UAE," Ahmad told Khaleej Times.

Emirates operates 126 weekly flights to the UK. The Dubai-based carrier has deployed superjumbo A380s for a majority of its flights to London. The airline operates a total of 514 flights a week to European countries.

Etihad Airways operates 42 flights a week to the UK including 21 weekly flights to London. The Abu Dhabi carrier operates a total of 344 flights per week to Europe. Low-cost carrier flydubai doesn't operate flights to the UK but it operates a total of 49 weekly flights to European countries. Air Arabia also operates daily flights to Istanbul in Turkey and Kiev in Ukraine. 

British airlines

The UK's exit from the European Union bloc, could open a period of turbulence for the country's airline industry that has soared on the EU's single European sky system for more than 20 years.

Britain will have to renegotiate a lot of agreements with Brussels for flights between Britain and the rest of the EU.

Ahmad said until Article 50 is invoked, which then sets out a two-year timetable to leave the EU, the UK has more than ample time to negotiate air trade deals with EU members so that a degree of "business as usual" happens for all airlines.

Any bilateral difficulties will also mean that European airlines, nearly all of whom rely on key high yield flights into the UK would equally be impacted if they cannot strike a deal, he said.

"This isn't a one-way street," he said. "European airlines have a lot to lose, just as UK airlines do - sanity will prevail and air accords across the EU with the UK will eventually be ascertained," Ahmad concluded.

- abdulbasit@khaleejtimes.com

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