UK + EU new traffic rights in place – new AOCs to access single market

UK + EU new traffic rights in place – new AOCs to access single market

The UK no longer enjoys access to the EU’s single market, with the first four freedoms of the air now in place.  However, LCCs, which owe their growth and indeed existence to the single market, have other subsidiaries and AOCs in place.

New traffic rights between the United Kingdom and EU began on 1 January. While open skies and the single aviation market were enjoyed for many years, this is no longer the case. 

Traffic rights between the UK and EU now revolve around the first four freedoms, the most fundamental.  

UK airlines can fly anywhere from the country to the EU and vice-versa with no limits on traffic, capacity, frequency, routing, or otherwise.  Fortunately, bilateral agreements are not needed.

But there are major changes, including:

  • No seventh freedom or cabotage rights: no longer can a UK airline fly between or within EU countries, and no longer can an EU airline fly within the United Kingdom
  • All-cargo fifth freedom operations are subject to future negotiation
  • Codeshare and block-space provision may enable UK and EU airlines to cooperate in the future to get around new restrictions
UK + EU new traffic rights in place – new AOCs to access single market

Two-way seats between the UK and EU reached almost 189 million in pre-coronavirus 2019. Between 2011 and 2019, they were up by 38%, a CAGR of 3.6%, with 52 million seats added.

UK and EU: new AOCs key to access single market

The most significant point, about no longer having access to the EU’s single market, has been circumvented by the most exposed operators.

This is through the creation of new subsidiaries with new AOCs, such as easyJet Europe, Norwegian UK, Ryanair UK, and Wizz Air UK.   Such carriers have grown significantly because of the EU’s single market and obviously they wish to continue to do so.

With these AOCs, Norwegian, Ryanair, and Wizz Air can fly domestically within the UK and to non-EU destinations from the country.  easyJet Europe can fly across and within the EU.

It is this that enables Wizz Air’s continued operation and growth from the country to non-EU places such as Egypt and Turkey, Norwegian’s London to US operations, and Ryanair’s intra-UK and Morocco, Montenegro, Norway, and Ukraine services.

Read more: Wizz Air announces Cardiff base; all 9 routes will have direct competition.

Despite all of this, the UK and EU governments’ battle with coronavirus – including preventing or disincentivising travel – probably means little difference will be noticed in the short-term.



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