Ryanair warns Brexit could see all UK flights to Europe being suspended
Remote chance of suspension would hit in 2019 in event of ‘cliff-edge’ Brexit
Michael O’Leary said everything would change, ‘probably for the worse’. Photograph: Reuters
Mr O’Leary said the current open skies arrangement hinges on recognising the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, which UK prime minister Theresa May said would no longer apply to the UK.
The Ryanair chief believes it will take more than the two-year time frame from triggering Article 50 to put agreements in place with EU nations.
He said: “In the airline industry we could be heading for a very difficult divorce with Europe.
“There is a possibility, unlikely, but nevertheless a possibility that there may be no flights between the UK and Europe in March 2019 if the UK walks off this cliff that they seem determined to walk off.”
Mr O’Leary said he was switching growth plans away from the UK and would not create any more pilot or cabin crew posts, or increase the amount of planes there due to Brexit uncertainty.
Mr O’Leary said new routes announced in Scotland on Thursday would use planes based elsewhere in Europe and would move to other European countries in the event of a hard Brexit.
Last month, Ryanair struck a new deal with Stansted Airport that will see it add nine new routes and fly 20 million people a year to and from the London gateway.
Mr O’Leary accused the UK government of being clueless over Brexit and hoped that the UK would stay in the EU.
He said: “Brexit — no exit plan by the UK government. I don’t think they have a clue what they are engaged in.
“I’ve had a number of meetings in London in recent weeks where they are going to do a great deal for Britain, and then I got to Frankfurt and Brussels and Paris where they are determined to do Britain down, and I fear they will.
“We have to recognise the will of the the people, they did vote in a referendum, however they were fundamentally misled into believing they could leave Europe and nothing would change.
“Everything is going to change, and probably for the worse.”