Passengers could face flight disruption, international coach services could be suspended and pet owners may face months of delays to travel plans in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the government has warned.
Businesses raised the alarm as the final batch of government papers setting out advice and preparations for a no-deal Brexit were published, with retailers warning of an “explosion of red tape” and gridlock at ports and airports.
The technical papers confirm that if the UK withdraws from the European Union without a Brexit deal, airlines will have to obtain individual permissions to operate between the UK and the EU.
One document states the UK “would envisage” allowing EU airlines to continue flying and “we would expect EU countries to reciprocate in turn”.
It added: “It would not be in the interest of any EU country or the UK to restrict the choice of destinations that could be served, though if such permissions are not granted, there could be disruption to some flights.”
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has repeatedly warned that flights could be grounded if an aviation deal is not reached as part of the Brexit negotiations.
The government insists a no-deal Brexit “remains unlikely given the mutual interests of the UK and the EU”.
Luton-based carrier EasyJet created an Austrian division in July 2017 to allow it to fly between EU countries after Brexit. Flights between the UK and 17 non-EU countries, such as the US, Canada, Switzerland and Iceland, currently operate due to the UK being a member of the EU.
The government guidance states that “replacement arrangements will be in place before exit day”.
Meanwhile, UK coach operators have been advised to consider subcontracting “all or part of the coach travel” on the continent to EU-based operators, as having no deal would mean operators could no longer rely on automatic recognition by the EU of UK-issued drivers’ licences.
The notice for coach operators said ministers are seeking to negotiate continued membership of the Interbus Agreement, which would allow occasional services for the likes of holiday operators, but this “cannot be guaranteed”.
And owners of cats, dogs and ferrets could have to discuss travel plans with their vet at least four months in advance, depending on what category of “third country” the UK becomes if it quits the EU without a deal.
Simon Doherty, British Veterinary Association president, warned of the risk from “a surge in demand for vets to carry out rabies vaccination and testing prior to travel”.