Ah the persistent and unpredictable ups and downs of Brexit. One political lesson to be learned from this dreadful mess is that a powerful slogan pitched at an opportune moment on fertile ground can have a big impact. “Take back control” means a hundred and one things to millions of people nevertheless those three words resonated on 23rd June 2016. In Europe, we have spent 40 years taking down barriers. This move has dramatically increased opportunity and prosperity for the majority but created an insecurity amongst some groups. Control to them ment putting barriers back up.
In aviation, we recently celebrated 25 years of European liberalisation. It’s only because of open markets that we now have one billion passengers flying. We have high growth in a mature market which is globally unusual. If we return to nationalism dominating ownership and control of organisations it’s inevitable prices will rise, and growth will be impaired. Protectionism is a false God.
There’s no doubt that Europe has major infrastructure challenges. The capacity and quality of our transport systems is inadequate. In European aviation there’s strong common interests. Lines on the map may work on the ground but in the air the current arrangements make little sense. To solve these problems closer ties are needed not looser ones. Closer ties are needed if we are to continue to prosper from international tourism. In 2017, Europe remained the top visited region with more than 671 million tourist arrivals.
Close cooperation in safety and security essential. Facing these critical challenges alone is not viable. The only way to take control and have a real influence on the future is to cooperate. One of the elements of European cooperation that is assumed to continue regardless of Brexit is the European Union’s Single European Sky (SES) programme. Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) are a key tool of the EU’s SES programme, aiming to help reduce the fragmentation of air navigation services. The UK/Ireland FAB aims to contribute to meeting key performance targets on safety, cost efficiency, capacity/delay and the environment. Surely that stays?
The noisy voices that say the UK Government should sever all ties with the EU maybe don’t realise how that suggestion is extremely foolish. Let’s hope the instability caused but the Brexit will be viewed in 25 years’ time as a temporary phenomenon.