Brexit, Aviation and the Withdrawal 8

IMG_0690The recent updates from the Number 10 Downing Street Press Office[1] show that there’s an immense amount of confusion w.r.t. the UK’s intentions going into negotiations with other parties.  Some of this maybe tactical but much of it indicates that the ruling Conservative Party has not moved from a period of campaigning to a period of Governing.  Due to this evident situation, it’s a dangerous time to be entering into serious negotiations on subjects that may have an impact for decades to come.

Now it’s said that the UK wants a Canada-Free Trade Agreement (FTA) type relationship with the EU[2].  At the same time there’s little consideration of working together on common problems for common benefits.  The notion of mutuality is completely lost in recent speeches.

Today, the UK Government has published details of proposals for points-based immigration system.  So called “lower-skilled” workers will be barred from working in the UK.  Given that the aerospace and aviation industries are generally considered to require “higher-skilled” workers the impact here should be manageable.  However, entry level salaries[3] for newly qualitied pilots can be less than £20,000, particularly where training is necessary.  Also, entry level salaries for engineering apprentices are generally less than the above figure.  So, the UK proposals do act to restrict such posts to British passport holders only.  Given the truly international nature of the aerospace and aviation industries this is limiting.

Without an ambitious UK-EU deal beyond the end of this year there’s going to be disruption to air transport[4].  Certainly, that’s the way British pilots see the next steps.  Living on an island, air transport is of considerable importance.  Even more so for the UK than a good number of EU Member States.  By December there needs to be something basic on the table that’s agreed upon.

I think, restricting the movements of people within Europe but at the same time calling for an EU-UK FTA is incompatible.  At a global level, faced, as we are with both the troubles of the Boeing 737 MAX and the outbreak crisis.  Adding trade tensions and political instability to the mix is making 2020 a rollercoaster ride.  Calming that ride down for 2021 should be an overall objective.

Throughout history the business of flying has proven to be incredibly resilient, but most professionals know that changing lots of significant things all at once is a recipe for failure.  How come politicians don’t know this too?

[1] @10DowningStreet Press Office and Task Force Europe.

[2] https://no10media.blog.gov.uk/2020/02/17/david-frost-lecture-reflections-on-the-revolutions-in-europe/

[3] https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/airline-pilot

[4] https://www.balpa.org/Media-Centre/Press-Releases/Brexit-There-is-no-WTO-default-for-aviation-so-UK

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