How Brexit will impact business aviation ops to the UK starting Jan. 1 2021

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Although the United Kingdom technically exited the European Union January 1, 2020, in order to make the transition as smooth as possible, 2020 was designated a transition year. The UK is still negotiating the withdrawal agreement with the EU. However, they continue to disagree and to date no agreement has been reached. There is a chance of “no deal” being agreed and if that happens UK will crash out of the EU on Jan. 1, 2021.

We will continue to keep this blog updated as we move toward the New Year and the official exit. In the meantime, here’s everything you need to know about how BREXIT and some of the primary ways business aviation could be impacted.

Potential air routing changes

In 2019, both sides agreed to preserve basic connections under no-deal, but potentially UK airlines may be prevented from flying routes within the EU, and EU airlines to and from the UK.

Services could be restricted as the UK would need bilateral agreements with countries inside and outside Europe. The UK is opting out of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). A deal should mean some of the rules that govern and manage our industry remain similar to today, but no deal could mean some changes happening on the 1st January.

If an agreement is reached, it is expected that rights and freedoms would be transferred in one form or another, but until written, we can’t know what that will look like.

Aircraft Importation

The UK has been a popular choice for importing aircraft into the EU. One reason is the effective VAT rate on aircraft was 0 percent. There is no certainty at the moment that these imports will still be valid in the result of a no deal Brexit. This will result in many operators finding that they will need to reimport their aircraft very quickly to avoid any issues when operating in the EU. We highly recommend checking the import status with your legal counsel and your importation specialist and whether they may be impacted by either Brexit scenario.

UK Charter Permits

All non-UK air carriers that wish to undertake commercial services to, from or within the UK are required to hold a Foreign Carrier Permit before that flight is undertaken. Currently, EEA and EFTA air carriers are permitted to undertake services to and from the UK without the need for a permit, provided those flights originate from or are destined for territories within the European Common Aviation Area. EEA carriers are also additionally able to undertake services within the UK (cabotage flights) without a permit.

If there is no reciprocity to these operations in the Brexit deal, or the UK leaves without a deal that will change and will result with the EU operator needing to apply for an FOP to grant access for every passenger carrying sector into or out of the UK and in this scenario it would be highly unlikely to be granted an FOP for cabotage flights within the UK.

It’s interesting to note that the EU does not control a consolidated charter permit process for all member states and it is left to each member state to manage its own process independent of others. Therefore, UK operators may not be so adversely effected unless wanting to perform, for example, a point-to-point service in France.

Here is a handy ICAO reference to the nine aviation freedoms, https://www.icao.int/pages/freedomsair.aspx.

For more information, feel free to contact me directly.

Licensing

The UK CAA is preparing for several eventualities to the negotiations, including the UK no longer continuing to be an EASA participant. This will have a huge impact on almost every aspect of aviation including pilot and engineering licenses, aircraft certification and parts. The UK now has its own separate TCO process and will continue to recognize the EASA TCO for a period of time. Up and till now, the UK TCO is only available to EU-based operators, but it will become available for non-EU operators to apply in due course.

For more information, feel free to contact me directly.

Customs

Aircraft parts could be subject to new import duties. For example, if you need a Dassault part to be shipped to and from the UK from France to fix your AOG there could be import and export duties to pay not to mention delays in transit whilst these fees are worked out and paid.

The amount and value of goods that you can bring into the UK may also change. Currently, you do not need to pay duty or tax on goods that you bring in from the UK as long as you transport yourself, will use yourself or give them away as a gift and have paid duty and tax in the country that you bought them.

If the UK leaves without a deal this could change meaning, you would have to declare goods when arriving into the UK from the EU and vice versa. There are also big differences in allowances. The links below highlight the allowances for arriving from the EU and from outside the EU.

Examples of the current allowances for flights:

  1. From the EU you can currently bring up to 90 liters of wine, 10 liters of spirits, 110 liters of beer and 800 cigarettes before you may need to be asked any questions.
  2. From outside of the EU you can only bring up to 16 liters of beer, 4 liters of wine, 1 liters of spirits and 200 cigarettes.

When claiming back VAT on high-value goods, the paper work processing must be done at the last port of exit from the EU. After Brexit, passengers should remember to claim back their VAT before travel to the UK as UK customs will not be able to authorize their refunds, and likewise when leaving the UK for Europe claim at the FBO before boarding.

Immigration

The changes in a no-deal scenario are still not clear.

EU and other non-visa nationals will not require a visa to enter the UK when visiting the UK for less than six months, but may require a visa if entering the UK to study or work. Entry into the UK for other non-EU countries will remain unchanged.

There will be changes coming to the General Aviation Report (GAR), and we are waiting for updated formats from UK Border Force to be circulated.

Pet Travel

Pet travel requirements will change depending on what category Great Britain becomes on 1 January 2021. It could be the case that  the current pet passport program will no longer be applicable and an EU pet passport issued in the UK will no longer be valid if the UK becomes an unlisted country in January 2021. The process to acquire a UK pet passport can take several months.

Conclusion

With a little less than two months from Jan. 1, 2021 and the UK’s official exit from the EU, there are still more questions than answers. Depending on how negotiations go, possible areas of impact for business aviation operators include changes to air routings to the UK, charter permits, aircraft importation, licensing, carbon emissions programs, customs, immigration, and pet travel. This is a fluid situation, and we will keep this article updated as more information becomes available.

 


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