Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Agreement with the EU ~ Overview ~ Post No.4 ~ Aviation


The text of the TCA was agreed in December 2020 and it is that text which is considered in this post. Following agreement, the text underwent a process of legal revision in accordance with what was Article FINPROV.9.  The articles were renumbered 1 to 783.  (FINPROV.9 became Article 780). The substance of the agreement was not changed.

The original post:

(Pictured - Replica of Bleriot XI - Brooklands Museum) - first air crossing of The Channel 1911).

Draft EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement 

Part Two Heading Two - Aviation ... Title I (Air Transport) ... Title II (Aviation Safety)

The Transport Committee published its Second Report of Session 2019–21, The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the aviation sector (HC 268) on 13 June 2020. This report noted - 

"The global coronavirus pandemic in 2020 has reached, to some degree, into all areas of the UK and world economy. Few industries, however, have been affected

as significantly as aviation. Aviation was one of the first industries hit by the pandemic, as national governments closed international borders to prevent non-essential travel. In the UK, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised British nationals on 17 March 2020 against all  non-essential  global travel.  Thousands of  holidaymakers  and  business  travellers  had  their  pre-booked  flights cancelled.  Around  the  world  thousands  of planes were grounded and left idle on tarmac. The drastic reduction in air travel—a 97% reduction in passenger flights compared to the previous year—has been devastating for the aviation industry, with estimates that the industry in the UK could lose over £20 billion in revenue in 2020. The sector is also of huge strategic and economic importance to the UK and is likely to be vital as the world recovers from the pandemic.. 

Against such a background, civil aviation could ill-afford the impact that a "no deal" Brexit would bring/ "No-deal" is avoided by the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) but there will be significant changes to which the industry will have to adapt. 

In November 2020 the USA and the UK signed a new Open Skies Accord ensuring air transport between the two nations continues seamlessly in a post-Brexit environment. (Previously, as a member of the EU, the UK benefitted from the USA-EU "Open Skies" agreement).

In 2006, the European Union set up the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA) as a single market in aviation services. The ECAA liberalised the air transport industry by allowing any company from any ECAA member state to fly between any ECAA member states airports, thereby allowing a "foreign" airline to provide domestic flights. From 1 January 2021 the UK will no longer benefit from the ECAA.


Title I (Air Transport)- 26 Articles.

Article AIRTRN.1 (Definitions) - 22 terms are defined - e.g. “air  carrier” means an air transport  undertaking holding a valid operating licence or equivalent.

Article AIRTRN.2 (Route Schedule) - Subject to AIRTRN.3 (Traffic rights) the EU will grant the UK the right for UK air carriers to operate, while carrying out air transport, on the following routes - "Points in the territory of the UK - Intermediate points - Points in the territory of the Union - Points beyond."

Article AIRTRN.3 (Traffic rights)

(1) - Each party will grant to the other party the right for its respective air carriers, for the purpose of carrying out air transport on the routes laid down in AIRTRN.2, to  -

a) fly across its territory without landing

b) make stops in its territory for non-traffic purposes.

(Note: Those are 1st and 2nd Freedom rights).

(2) - UK air carriers will enjoy the right to make stops in EU territory to provide scheduled and non-schedules air transport services between any points in the UK and any points in EU territory. (These are 3rd and 4th Freedom rights).

(3) - EU carriers will also have 3rd and 4th freedom rights in the UK.

(4) - This enables EU Member States to enter into bilateral agreements with the UK relating to air cargo.

(5) - The rights granted under paragraph 4 shall be governed by the provisions of Title I (Air Transport).

(6) - Neither Party shall unilaterally limit the volume of traffic, capacity, frequency, regularity, routing, origin or destination of the air transport services operated in accordance with paragraphs 2, 3 or 4. The aircraft types operated may not be restricted (with exceptions - e.g. for safety reasons).

(7) - Title I does not give UK carriers the right to take on board passengers etc. in an EU  member State when the passengers etc. are destined for another point in the territory of that Members State or any other Member State.

Thus, a UK air carrier could fly (say) London to Paris but could not then operate a service from Paris to Marseille or Paris to Rome etc.

(8) - Places a similar restriction on EU carriers within the UK. Thus, a carrier based in the EU could not operate a service from (say) London to Edinburgh or London to Belfast.

(9) - The UK and Member States may - with certain provisos - agree to authorise non-scheduled air transport services beyond the rights provided for in Article AIRTRN.3.

Article AIRTRN.4 (Code-share and blocked space arrangements) - This enables, for example, a UK carrier to act as "marketing carrier" for other air carriers. A similar right is given to EU carriers with respect to UK carriers. Further, a UK air carrier can operate as the "operating carrier" with any matketing carrier that is also an air carrier of the EU. There is similar provision for EU carriers.

Article AIRTRN.5 (Operational flexibility) - The rights granted under AIRTRN.3(2), (3) and (4) [Traffic rights] include certain "prerogatives" - e.g. to operate flights in either or both directions, to combine different flight numbers within one aircraft operation etc.

Article AIRTRN.6 (Operational authorisations and technical permissions) - Aims at minimum procedural delay to applications to operate air transport services provided that various conditions are met. The conditions include ownership requirements and safety requirements.

Article AIRTRN.7 (Operational plans, programmes and schedules) - Notification of operating plans, programmes or schedules for air services operated under Title I may be required by a Party for information purposes only.

Article AIRTN. 8 (Refusal, revocation, suspension or limitation of operating authorisations) - The EU or the UK may take action against an air carrier in specified cases. This is not considered further here.

Article AIRTRN. 9 (Ownership and control of air carriers) - The parties recognise the continued liberalisation of ownership and control of their respective air carriers. It has been agreed that the Specilaised Committee on Air Transport will look at this over the first 12 months of the agreement being in force.

Article AIRTRN.10 (Compliance with law and regulations) - requires compliance with laws and regulations set out in the Article.

Article AIRTRN.11 (Non discrimination) - Article AIRTRN.11 (Doing business) - Article AIRTRN. 13 (Commercial operations), AIRTRN.14 (Fiscal provisions), AIRTRN.15 (User charges) and AIRTRN.17 (Statistics) are not considered further in this post.

Article AIRTRN.18 (Aviation safety) - The parties reaffirm the importance of close cooperation in the field of aviation safety.  Certificates of airworthiness, certificates of competency amd licences will be recognised.  There may be consultations at any time concerning the safety standards maintained and administered by the other Party. The article provides machinery for corrective action.

Article AIRTRN.19 (Aviation security) - not considered further here.

Article AIRTRN.20 (Air Traffic Management) -The parties and their respective competent authorities and air navigation service providers (e.g.CAA and NATS in the UK) shall cooperate with each other in such a way as to enhance the safe and efficient functioning of air traffic in the European Region.

There is to be cooperation on air navigation service charges and network functions. This is with a view to optimising overall fligh efficiency, reducing costs, minimising environmental impact and enhancing the safety and capacity of air traffic flows.

A further area of cooperation will be on air traffic modernisation programmes, incuding research, development and deployment activities.

Article AIRTRN.21 (Air Carrier Liability) - Obligations under the Montreal Convention 1999 will continue to apply.

Article AIRTRN.22 (Consumer Protection) - Article AIRTRN.23 (Relationship to other agreements) - are not considered further here.

Article AIRTRN.24 (Suspension and Termination) - if Title I is supended (in whole or in part) then the suspension will be implemented no earlier than the first day of the IATA traffic season following the season during which the suspension has been notified.

If the TCA is terminated [FINPROV.8] or the Air Transport Title is terminated, the provisions of the Air Transport Title will continue until the end of the IATS traffic season in progress on that date. (Obviously, if the traffic season is almost at an end, the result could be very short notice of loss of air transport rights).

Article AIRTRN.25 (Termination of this Title) - Each Party may at any moment terminate the Title, by written notice through diplomatic channels. The Title then ceases after 9 months.

Article AIRTRN.26 - the agreement will be registered with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).


Title II (Aviation Safety)

Article AVSAF.1 sets out objectives for the Title and AVSAF.2 contains definitions.

Under AVSAF.3 the parties may cooperate on almost any aspect of aviation safety. This will be overseen by the Specialised Committee on Aviation Safety.

AVSAF.4 sets out some General Obligations and AVSAF.5 enables each party to decide the level of protection it considers appropriate for safety and for the environment.

AVSAF.6 enables immediate measures if a party consideres there is a reasonable risk that a civil aeronautical product, service or acivity may compromise safety or the environment.

AVSAF.7 provides for contact points for communication between the parties. 

This post does not consider further the following - AVSAF.8 (Transparency, regulatory cooperation and mutual assistance) - AVSAF.9 (Exchange of safety information) - AVSAF.10 (Cooperation in enforcement activities) - AVSAF.11 Confidentiality and protection of data and information) - AVSAF.12 enables the Specialised Committee on Aviation Safety to amend ANNEX AVSAF-1 (Airworthiness and Environment Certification) - AVSAF.13 (Cost recovery) - AVSAF.14 (Other Agreements and prior arrangements) - AVSAF.15 (suspension of reciprocal acceptance obligations). 

Article AVSAF.16 enable either party to terminate the Title. Termination would become effective after 9 months.


The United Kingdom was, in many ways, a pioneer in the field of civil commercial aviation and in the creation of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). It is a long and, at times, epic story. For instance British Airways can trace its beginnings to the world's first daily international scheduled air service in 1919 - Hounslow Heath to Le Bourget (Paris). The aircraft was a De Havilland DH4A biplane and the flight took two and half hours in the air. By 1925 Imperial Airways operated services to Paris, Brussels, Basle, Cologne and Zurich and to much further destinations such as Egypt, the Arabian Gulf, India and South Africa. The flights were lengthy and, given the technology of the times, far more dangerous than modern-day operations.

The nation could (and still can) be rightly proud of the safety standards it sets and adheres to. It cannot be said that the new Air Transport arrangements are anywhere near as comprehensive as the arrangements under EU membership with its European Common Aviation Area. Nevertheless, a great deal of air transport will continue to operate and the Agreement provides for that to be built upon. 

Although the UK will no longer be part of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) the safety provisions are strong and require close cooperation between UK authorities (e.g. CAA) and EASA. The Agreement also places emphasis on environmental protection.

29 December 2020.

UK Parliament - Committee on the Future Relationship with the EU - The UK-EU furure relatonship: the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (pdf) 

Civil Aviation Authority - Aviation Law from 1 January 2021

Civil Aviation Authority - UK-EU transition

7 January 2021 - Universalweather.com - How Brexit will impact business aviation ops to the UK starting Jan. 1 2021

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