LONDON — A new open skies agreement has been inked today by UK Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, and the United States. The announcement has come just days after the British Government has taken its final proposed BREXIT deal to the House of Commons for it to be voted on.
The new deal guarantees that, even in the event of a no-deal BREXIT, traffic between the US and the UK will not be restricted.
The UK Government says that the new agreement projects an estimate of £50 billion in trading relationship between the two countries, which both parties are obviously keen to see continue to grow.
Grayling noted how the UK and the United States “have a special relationship, which has helped shape the modern world and there is no better example of this than aviation.”
“Our transatlantic flights have helped to bring our countries even closer together, strengthening our ties and boosting our economies,” he added.
In addition to this trading relationship, the news also means that airports such as London-Heathrow (LHR) and Gatwick (LGW), as well as northern powerhouse Manchester Airport (MAN) will be able to continue to hold its positions as key European hubs for transatlantic operations.
Today’s announcement has been welcomed by many airlines and airports, most notably British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Manchester Airport, all of which have tremendous amounts of UK/US operations at hand.
International Airlines Group (IAG) CEO, Willie Walsh, released a statement on this announcement. “It’s critical that Britain maintains full access to international aviation markets so it can continue to develop its global trading links. This agreement is a significantly positive development which we welcome,” he said.
“The agreement, which closely follows the Model US Open Skies Agreement, facilitates strong competition and is clearly pro-consumer. The US is a major destination for British businesses and tourists, while the UK welcomes many American visitors to its shores,” Walsh added.
This announcement definitely brings much-needed relief to many businesses and holidaymakers, who will now be able to have the peace of mind that travel will continue undisturbed between the two countries for the foreseeable future.
Virgin Atlantic’s CEO, Craig Kreeger, said that he is thrilled that the UK and US governments have reached an agreement, “which will enable our customers to continue traveling as normal between the UK and US post-BREXIT.”
“We would like to thank the Department for Transport, Department of Transportation and Department of State for their diligence and hard work in finalizing this agreement far in advance of the March 2019 deadline, which will provide much-needed reassurance for both business and leisure travelers.”
Likewise, Tim Hawkins, chief strategy officer of Manchester Airports Group, commented, “The government’s new aviation deal with the US government is hugely positive for passengers and businesses flying on US routes from our airports – because it gives clear reassurance on flights post-BREXIT and provides an ‘open-skies’ agreement that will encourage competition and choice in the long term.”
While the UK prepares to leave the EU, today’s news will be the first of many big announcements of how the UK will hold itself on to the international aviation stage.