British Airways seek support from Spanish Government as part of no-deal Brexit contingency
International Airlines Group has asked for the Spanish government’s help to retain its operating rights should the UK leave of the European Union without a deal, according to reports.
It is understood IAG has been in talks with the Spanish government since October as it seeks to prove to Brussels that it complies with its airline ownership rules.
The move follows reports in Spanish newspaper El Pais.
Currently, the UK is set to leave the EU but no withdrawal agreement has yet been reached.
However, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, IAG’s status as a European carrier could be thrown into jeopardy as under existing rules, an airline must be more than 50% EU-owned and controlled to be considered European.
IAG has yet to demonstrate that it meets this requirement.
The group was formed following the combination of British Airways and Spanish carrier Iberia and owns a number of budget airlines including Vueling, Aer Lingus and low cost long haul carrier Level.
Their operational headquarters, which controls the management of its British and Spanish subsidiaries, is in London.
IAG told The Times: “We remain confident that a comprehensive air transport agreement between the EU and the UK will be reached. It’s in the UK and the EU’s interests to have a fully liberalised aviation agreement.
“Even if there is no Brexit deal, both the EU and the UK have said they will put an agreement in place that allows flights to continue.”
European transport commissioner Violeta Bulc has warned that she will not bend the rules for IAG if the UK were to follow through with Brexit despite not securing a deal.
A number of companies are reported to have discussed contingency plans to ground some flights after Brexit in a move that would stop them from being liable for putting up stranded passengers.
If no deal is reached, travellers would not be eligible for compensation and in most cases would not be able to claim on their insurance for any losses they incurred.
Under current EU rules airlines can legitimately cancel a booking up to two weeks before departure and be held liable only for refunding the ticket price.
If the UK and the EU do not strike a “no-deal aviation treaty” up to a thousand flights a week could be cancelled.
Should no aviation agreement be in place by mid-March the industry is understood to have discussed the possibility of cancelling flights due to take off after Brexit a few weeks in advance.
Despite the concerns, Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade said that the organisation was confident an agreement on aviation would be reached between the UK and the EU.