Brexit could be 'hugely damaging' to holidaymakers warns industry body

PUBLISHED: 13:03 04 April 2017 | UPDATED: 17:37 05 April 2017

(Unsplash)

(Unsplash)

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There is no "fall-back option" for airlines if the UK is unable to secure an aviation agreement during Brexit negotiations, says travel trade organisation Abta

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The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) claimed it is “critical” that existing deals are replaced or retained otherwise there could be a “hugely damaging” reduction in flights.

All of the UK’s airline routes to the EU and the US are secured through EU agreements.

The UK could be forced to trade under World Trade Organisation tariffs if no divorce deal can be reached, but Abta has published a report warning that this would not apply to the aviation sector.

It stated: “There is no international fall-back option, such as World Trade Organisation rules, that exists for the aviation sector.

“A reduction in the number of routes would be hugely damaging for holidaymakers, business travellers and visitors to the UK.”

Before last year’s referendum, Abta warned that foreign trips are “likely to become more expensive” if the UK withdraws from the EU, adding that from a travel perspective the potential risks and downsides of Brexit are “not matched by an equal upside”.

The single market for aviation, created in the 1990s, means there are no commercial restrictions for airlines flying within the EU.

Since it was introduced there has been a sharp fall in fares and an almost tripling of routes across the continent due to the emergence of budget airlines.

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Atba, told the Press Association: “Travel and tourism is one of the UK’s largest industries and it is vital that the Government makes sure it can continue to thrive during and after the negotiations.

“I’m sure there are lots of sectors who say ‘we’re the most important sector and we’ve got to be top of priorities’, but for an island nation I really think the transport links are very important.

“Not just for tourism but for business and for cargo.

“It will be very high on the list of the negotiating priorities to secure that and the officials and the politicians I’ve spoken to are on the case.”

With some holidays on sale up to 18 months in advance, Abta called on ministers to ensure that effective transitional agreements with the EU are in place if needed.

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