Hammond and Walsh Play Down Worries over Open Skies and Brexit

Unlikely bedfellows Chancellor Phillip Hammond and IAG airline chief Willie Walsh have played down doom-laden predictions of the airline industry grinding to a standstill because of Brexit

Walsh, the Chief Executive of IAG, which owns Aer Lingus and British Airways, said that such a move would bring the airline industry across the entire continent to a halt.

He told the UK’s Commons Transport Committee: “The prospect of there being no flying between the UK and and Europe… I don’t agree with it at all. I think this would bring the whole of Europe to a standstill.”

The IAG chief’s comments came after Chancellor Philip Hammond had said it is “theoretically conceivable” that all flights between the EU and the UK could be suspended on the day Britain leaves the EU.

However, the Chancellor added: “I don’t think anybody seriously believes that that is where we will get to.”

Willie Walsh told MPs the airline industry would be able to cope with Brexit as it was used to dealing with new regulations and adapting quickly to changing situations.

This contrasts with warnings from some airline figures recently that the clock was ticking for the airline industry and that a deal on open skies was needed sooner rather than later to avoid confusion in air travel to and from the remaining 27 EU countries.