The government has advertised for two new top jobs in airspace strategy and Brexit aviation negotiations – stressing that no experience of the complex sector is needed.
The roles – officially titled Head of Airspace Strategy and Head of Aviation EU Exit Negotiations – appear on the civil service jobs website.
The first role will be “leading strategic policy development to help deliver the government’s objective to modernise UK airspace” including “working on the links between airspace modernisation and the requirements of any new runway in the South East”.
The latter role, meanwhile, will be responsible for “overseeing negotiations with the EU on the future of our aviation safety and airspace relationships”.
The successful candidate will also be “contributing to the formulation and implementation of the UK’s future aviation strategy and development of related legislation and policies”.
But crucially the advertisement for the £62,519-£70,859 roles stresses that “prior knowledge of airspace and the aviation sector is an advantage but not necessary”.
It adds, though, that the candidate must be able to write and talk, saying: “You should have excellent communication skills, both oral and written, and be able to distil complex information into a succinct and persuasive narrative.”
Negotiating post-Brexit aviation rules, which falls under Chris Grayling’s troubled Department for Transport, is potentially one of the most complex jobs the government faces in the coming months.
The ad was mocked by Labour MP Gareth Thomas, a champion of the anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain.
He said: “How can the government be advertising for two vital jobs like the Head of Airspace Strategy and Head of Aviation EU Exit Negotiations and yet not require experience in that sector? “Planes will be grounded, holidays will be ruined and business operations will grind to a halt – all because this government has conducted Brexit like the political equivalent of Captain Mainwaring and Private Pike.
“This is becoming a national embarrassment.”
Currently the rules in the European Common Aviation Area – the EU plus a number of neighbouring countries – are simple. Any airline which meets standard technical and financial criteria and is owned by EU nationals can operate whatever routes it wants within the EU.
Post-Brexit, however, the UK would no longer be part of this area, meaning UK airlines would lose the freedom to operate services between other EU countries.
Similarly, unless a deal is struck, the only services that airlines from other EU member states would be able to operate services to and from the UK would be from their home country only – so a UK passenger could fly Ryanair to Dublin but no Barcelona, Milan or Paris. Easyjet has been reported to be applying for an Air Operator Certificate in Austria.
That may even effect the successful candidates in these roles – the advertisement says: “This role will require travel to Europe, potentially frequently at some periods.”