The IAA backed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s claim yesterday, saying the reality is that British flights will currently have no legal right to land in Ireland or other EU countries in the event of a hard Brexit.
On Wednesday, Mr Varadkar said British officials need to realise that a no-deal Brexit situation could see UK planes barred from EU skies in a move that would cause havoc to hundreds of thousands of businesses and holidaymakers every year.
The comment led to an angry backlash from some in the British media yesterday and forced Downing Street to reject the remark, with a spokesperson yesterday saying: “It’s wrong to claim that Ireland could simply stop the UK from flying over its land as a result of Brexit. The reason we say that is because overflight rights are not guaranteed by the EU, rather by multilateral treaty which both ourselves and Ireland have signed up to.”
However, in a statement, the IAA supported Mr Varadkar’s claim, saying: “There would need to be a new agreement in place to maintain the existing level of connectivity between Europe and the UK.
“Regarding EU/UK flights, another agreement or the reinstatement of old bi-lateral agreements would need to be in place if a hard Brexit occurs, to provide for connectivity between Europe and the UK.”
Speaking in Drinagh in West Cork yesterday, Mr Varadkar said he hadn’t seen the IAA statement.
“But what I said [in Derrynane] was just a statement of the obvious — that’s if there’s a no-deal on Brexit, a hard Brexit, a clean break which some people in England seem to want, that obviously means Britain won’t be in the Single European Sky anymore so we will need to negotiate an arrangement that allows British aeroplanes and British airports to remain part of the Single European Sky.
“But nothing is agreed until everything is agreed and we can’t have a situation where the United Kingdom thinks they can have an agreement on the stuff that’s important to them but not have an agreement on the stuff that’s important to everybody else in Europe,” he said.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has hit out at British tabloid newspapers for labelling Mr Varadkar an “EU toady” and “air head” over his plane ban comments.