UK and Switzerland to sign deal ensuring continued flights after Brexit

UK and Switzerland to sign deal ensuring continued flights after Brexit

A deal ensuring flights between the UK and Switzerland continue post-Brexit is to be signed by the UK's Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

The bilateral transport deal will replace the current agreement the UK and Switzerland share through an arrangement between Swiss authorities and the EU.

In 2017 6.8 million passengers travelled by air between the countries, according to the Department for Transport (DfT).

Mr Grayling said: "The UK aviation sector is the biggest in Europe and will play an even more crucial role as we further develop as an outward looking global nation.

"These agreements will ensure Britain continues to prosper as we leave the EU and I'm confident the UK will reach a mutually beneficial deal, whilst we continue to prepare for all eventualities."

He is travelling to Switzerland on Monday to sign the agreement.

The move came as the British Government sought to calm fears that a no-deal Brexit could have a major impact on travel plans.

Downing Street dismissed as "untrue" reports that people would be advised not to book holidays after March under proposed contingency guidance plans being drawn up for a no-deal scenario.

Mr Grayling has also written to all Tory MPs insisting that people can have confidence about their travel plans.

He wrote: "Within the EU, both we and the Commission have been clear that in all circumstances there will be an agreement between the UK and the EU after Brexit, enabling routine aviation between UK airports and the EU to continue as normal.

"In the event that there wasn't an implementation period, the arrangements default to a bilateral level, and I have discussed the future of aviation with virtually all of my member state counterparts.

"All are prepared to put in place rapid arrangements if needed, but none believe this will be necessary.

"Your constituents can therefore be confident in booking holidays for next summer."

There have been 10 flight agreements recently agreed by the Government with countries including the US, Canada and Brazil to replace their EU equivalents.

On Monday the Government is also launching the Aviation 2050 consultation.

One of the proposals is a commitment to sign more air service agreements with countries around the world "in an effort to boost trade and tourism", according to the department's statement.

Other proposals include requirements to reduce emissions and noise levels.

Plans to embed noise exposure levels in the planning approval process and the introduction of noise caps which will be "regularly reviewed and enforced" are part of the Aviation 2050 strategy.

The appointment of a chairman for the new Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise is also part of the consultation.

Commenting on the plans, shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: "Labour supports responsible and regulated growth in UK aviation. Any future expansion must be within our environmental and legal obligations.

"It's not good enough for the Government to leave these imperatives to the market.

"The aviation industry needs clear and ambitious objectives from Government on carbon, noise and air quality overseen by a strong regulator to ensure growth within environmental limits."

John Stewart, chairman of HACAN, which represents residents under the Heathrow flight paths, said: "We welcome the proposal to reduce noise levels. The challenge for the Government and the aviation industry will be to ensure that local communities notice a real difference on the ground."

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