THE European Commission celebrated 25 years of the EU’s internal aviation market in June. The liberalisation of European aviation, which allowed EU carriers to fly between any airport within the bloc, opened the skies to the masses. Greater choice of airlines has cut fares—by as much as 96% between Paris and Milan since 1992, for example, in large part because of low-cost carriers (LCCs). Cheap fares have pushed passenger volumes to record levels, from 360m in 1993 to 920m this year.
Yet the bosses of Europe’s two biggest LCCs, Ireland’s Ryanair and Britain’s easyJet, are in no mood to cheer. The problem is the possibility of a hard Brexit. In the 1990s Britain was the country driving forward airline liberalisation in Europe, against the instincts of France and Italy, which preferred to protect their own flag carriers. The British government’s plan to leave the EU by March 2019 means that the country will probably exit the European Common Aviation Area (as an expanded version of that…Continue reading