- Planes with British components may be grounded after Brexit.
- Industry chief warns MPs the industry could fall into a regulatory no-mans land if Britain fails to get a deal.
- ADS Group chairman Paul Everitt says he couldn’t be certain planes will still fly after March 2019.
- Everitt’s comments follow a similar warning from the chancellor Philip Hammond.
LONDON – British planes could be grounded in the event of a Hard Brexit, Britain’s leading aerospace body has warned.
The chairman of the ADS Group, Paul Everitt, told Parliament’s Business Select Committee he was worried that planes with British components may not be allowed to fly if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.
Asked if passengers could be certain that flights they booked for after March 2019 would be able to take off, he replied:
“The truth is I can’t tell you. And that is a worry and it’s an even bigger worry if you talk to the airlines…”
He added: “I couldn’t be certain [flights will still take off]”
Everitt, who represents Britain’s UK aerospace, defence, security, and space sectors, said failure to secure a Brexit deal would leave British aerospace in a “chaotic” regulatory no-man’s land.
“It’s chaotic because we don’t know [what will happen],” he told MPs.
“We’re assuming that nobody really wants a chaotic situation but if we are not an EU member then a whole bunch of stuff falls away and we have to have separate international agreements in place.
“I don’t know the extent to which the Department for Transport is moving forward to put those in place…. I have no idea how much genuine progress they have made.”
He said that leaving the EU without a deal, as advocated by some Conservative MPs would be a highly damaging for the industry.
“No deal would be the worst possible outcome, from an industry point of view. We believe that would be chaotic, and unhelpful for this particular sector, and a number of others,” he said.
Everitt’s comments follow a warning from the Chancellor Philip Hammond last month that planes could be grounded in the most “extreme” hard Brexit scenario.
“Obviously one can’t plan for the most extreme scenario. Let me give you an example. It is theoretically conceivable that in a no deal scenario there will be no air traffic moving between the UK and the European Union on March 29th 2019,” Hammond told the Treasury Select Committee.
Reacting to Everitt’s comments, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said the government should rule out a no-deal Brexit.
“The aerospace industry – civilian or military – is one of Britain’s most successful high tech sectors. It depends heavily on EU supply chains and the maintenance of a Customs Union arrangement along with the goodwill of close co-operation with France, Germany and Italy at government level,” he said. “Theresa May has to rule out the option of leaving the EU without a deal or leaving without free trade and an absence of trade barriers. “UK industry is potentially badly damaged by a lack of progress in Brexit talks and Tory recklessness over this country’s future. The British people, and UK business, must be given the opportunity to exit from Brexit.”
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