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US and UK agree post-Brexit open skies deal

(c) Sky News 2018: <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/us-and-uk-agree-post-brexit-open-skies-deal-11566550">US and UK agree post-Brexit open skies deal</a>
 

Britain and the US have agreed a new "open skies" deal for post-Brexit flights, the government has announced.

It means routes between the two countries - currently operating under the US-EU open skies treaty - will continue to enjoy the same access.

America's leading airlines have previously warned that flights could have been grounded if the UK left the EU's open skies agreement without making new arrangements.

The UK has also secured bilateral air service arrangements with Albania, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Kosovo, Montenegro, Morocco and Switzerland, while discussions with Canada are at "an advanced stage" according to the DfT.

Meanwhile, under Theresa May's Brexit deal, London and Brussels have agreed to negotiate a "comprehensive air transport agreement" for UK-EU flights.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said the UK-US agreement and eight other deals were "proof that the UK will continue to be a major player on the world stage after we leave the EU".

Under the deal, EU majority-owned airlines that are currently operating between the UK and US will be able to continue to fly existing routes as long as they remain owned and controlled by EU/EEA nationals or UK nationals.

But any airline wanting to establish a route between the UK and US in the future that is not owned and controlled by UK nationals will need to seek a waiver from the US government.

British Airways owner International Airlines Group is registered in Spain and has shareholders from around the world.

Meanwhile, Sir Richard Branson is in the process of reducing his stake in Virgin Atlantic to 20% by selling 31% of the business to Air France-KLM (LSE: 0LN7.L - news) .

Aviation consultant John Strickland said: "It's positive news for UK airlines operating to the US market that this agreement has been reached.

"It appears that enough flexibility has been negotiated to allow for different scenarios of either UK or EU majority ownership, a point of importance for IAG, and for Virgin, which is in the process of becoming non-UK majority owned as Air France (Paris: FR0000031122 - news) takes a stake."