Aviation, Brexit and COVID19 (ABC) 8

two pilots sitting inside plane
Photo by Rafael Cosquiere on Pexels.com

The indications are that the second round of UK-EU future relationship negotiations were disappointing but constructive even as they took place in challenging conditions. It’s interesting to see the diplomatic use of the word: ”constructive” displaying calculated vagueness. On the upside, the statements made by a UK Government spokesperson hints at some convergence on transport matters[1]. That can only be good.

The next round begins on 11 May. The one after that begins on 1 June. Then later in June there’s a plan for a High-Level Conference to take stock of progress in the UK-EU negotiations[2].

Most observers should be concerned about the lack of pragmatism and realism being shown by the parties.  The likelihood of a No Deal Brexit outcome is still big. One reason for this is that, for many Brexiters, libertarians and populists, Brexit is their “raison d’etre”. So, that means pushing on regardless of the social, economic and reputational costs.  In a year of pandemic, you might ask the question: who would want more damage?

More than ever I’m remined that Government is an oil tanker. Once it sets off in a direction it’s incredibly difficult to turn around.  The poor early response to COVID-19 shows how difficult reorientation of Government activities are even in the face of a clear and present danger. It seems brinkmanship by the UK is because it doesn’t know how to do differently.  The direction set is either the UK will agree with the EU a deal on the lines of the free trade agreement the EU has with Canada or it’s a No Deal Brexit.

Sadly, it’s undoubtably true that the global aviation industry will emerge from 2020 weaker and more vulnerable than it has been for decades.  Now we have announcements that British Airways (BA) plan to cut up to 12,000 jobs as its worst crisis in history unfolds[3]. Virgin Atlantic is on the road to collapse without help.

Lufthansa is set to receive rescue package worth roughly €9bn from the German Government.  Air France is to receive $7.6 billion loan package backed by the French Government[4]. So, far the UK Government is remaining tight lipped.

More than ever, European aviation, Governments and health organisations need to collaborate and co-ordinate to mitigate the disastrous effects of COVID-19.  Brexit is a diversion.

[1] https://no10media.blog.gov.uk/2020/04/24/statement-on-round-two-of-uk-eu-negotiations/

[2] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/statement_20_739

[3] https://news.sky.com/story/british-airways-may-cut-12000-jobs-as-virus-crisis-grounds-flights-11980136

[4] https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-health-coronavirus-airfranceklm-renau/air-france-klm-wins-aid-deal-flags-likely-share-issue-idUKKCN22631F

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