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No-deal Brexit could ground UK flights and stop Eurostar, French minister warns

Alanna Petroff
Senior Economics Correspondent at Yahoo Finance UK

French minister Nathalie Loiseau warned on Thursday that flights and Eurostar trains from the UK would be turned away from the European Union in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Loiseau, France’s minister for European affairs, made her comments during an event at Chatham House in London, which frequently hosts talks by foreign officials and academics.

“This is the reason why we need to prepare for a ‘no-deal’ [Brexit],” she said, in response to a question about the potential for grounded flights and stalled trains.

Concerns about post-Brexit flights have been hanging over European airline executives since the UK referendum in mid-2016.

Concerns about UK flights are increasing as Brexit approaches. Photo: Joel Saget/Getty Images

Aviation experts have warned that the UK would have to agree to new flight arrangements with the EU to keep planes moving across the English Channel. Flight agreements are not covered by the World Trade Organization, which means there is technically no fall-back plan.

Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary has also warned about grounded flights after Brexit.

A no-deal Brexit could also impact flights between the UK and other non-EU countries, including the US and Canada. It’s expected that these nations would have to agree to new aviation deals with the UK after Brexit. Their aviation agreements with the EU would not automatically apply to the UK after a no-deal Brexit.

A Eurostar representative denied Loiseau’s assertions, saying he expected company trains would continue to operate normally.

“We’re having constructive conversations with the government,” he told Yahoo Finance.

Loiseau’s warning came as the UK government published 28 notices that were intended to give British people, businesses, and other groups advice on how to prepare for the possibility of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal.

The government notices covered topics including trade, driving licences, mobile roaming charges and pharmaceuticals.

For example, one notice advised British drivers to get up to two separate International Driving Permits to continue driving in the EU after Brexit. Currently, UK drivers are exempt from this requirement.