Flights between the UK and the US might have to be scaled back once Britain leaves the European Union unless a new Open Skies deal can be reached.
Once Britain is no longer part of the EU, it will no longer be part of the current Open Skies agreement, which was brought in 10 years ago to allow any EU and any US airline to fly between any US or EU airport.
And at the moment, the US is proposing to replace this for the UK with a basic bilateral agreement, which could mean some existing transatlantic flights will no longer be permitted.
Bilateral agreements usually only allow a limited number of flights to a limited number of destinations.
One of the obstacles in reaching a new agreement with the US is that airlines operating many transatlantic flights, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, are not majority owned by either UK or US firms.
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However, the Department for Transport said talks with the US were progressing well. A spokesman added: “Our discussions with the US about a new UK-US air service agreement have been positive and we have made significant progress. Both sides want to conclude these discussions soon.
“All parties have a shared interest in ensuring that existing rights will continue under the new bilateral arrangements, allowing airlines on both sides of the Atlantic to continue to operate existing services as well as to seek to develop new ones.”
British Airways’ owner IAG said: “We have every confidence that the US and UK will sign a deal that is in everyone’s interests and that IAG will comply with the EU and UK ownership and control regulations post Brexit.”
Virgin Atlantic said it remained ‘assured that a new liberal agreement will be reached, allowing us to keep flying to all of our destinations in North America’.