Europe’s biggest budget airline has softened its warnings on Brexit. Ryanair now says “you won’t see planes grounded” after 29 March 2019, the date the UK leaves the EU. But it still fears “open skies” may not continue beyond 2020.
The Irish airline has its main base of operations in the UK, taking advantage of the policy that allows any EU carrier to fly anywhere within the European Union. Last August the chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said: ““We haven’t got plan B. We haven’t even got plan A-and-a-half yet.”
But Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, has now told The Independent: “We think good progress has been made in the past two months. The British Government has sent out their blueprint for transition and that’s got some positive signs for the industry. That means that until the end of December 2020, the status quo remains the same.
“What happens after that transition agreement from 1 January 2021 is less certain. The signals are more negative than we would like.”
A number of airlines are concerned about how ownership rules could affect them after Brexit. An EU airline must be over 50 per cent EU owned. Once the UK leaves, with its present shareholder structure, Ryanair would fall short of this proportion.
Its leading rival, easyJet, has already announced it is setting up an Austrian subsidiary to allow it to continue to fly intra-EU routes after Brexit.
Mr Jacobs said: “We want to continue to offer British consumers the cheapest flights.” But he added: “We’ve very moveable assets, we’re in 34 countries.”
Ryanair has announced that it will continue its Stansted to Edinburgh link through the winter, but is not restoring the Glasgow service from the Essex airport.