Republic cannot block UK flights if there is no-deal Brexit, says No 10

Leo Varadkar said the resignations of David Davis and Boris Johnson were internal matters for the British government
David Wilcock, Press Association

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar is "wrong" to suggest British aircraft would be barred from his country's airspace in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Downing Street has said.

So-called "overflight rights" are guaranteed by international treaties rather than EU membership, a Number 10 spokeswoman said after the Taoiseach claimed a hard departure by the UK would mean "planes would not fly".

The spokeswoman said the UK was confident of reaching a deal that included "aviation access" but added: "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."

Speaking in Co Kerry on Wednesday, Mr Varadkar said a no-deal Brexit would see Britain leave the Single European Sky programme, which co-ordinates flights, adding: "If they want their planes to fly over our sky, they would need to take that into account."

He added: "The situation at the moment is that the UK is part of the Single European Sky and if they leave the EU they are not.

"And that does mean if there was a no-deal hard Brexit next March, the planes would not fly and Britain would be an island in many ways - and that is something they need to think about."

Trade body Airlines UK said that good aviation links were "vital to the continuing success and growth of both the UK economy and that of our EU counterparts".

A spokesman said: "The sector brings value to both sides of the negotiation. That's the whole point - aviation is an economic enabler, not a British or EU export.

"Airlines continue to support the UK Government in reaching a deal that protects market access to, from and within the EU and - like all air service agreements - can be split off from the main trade deal.

"As the third largest aviation market in the world we believe this will be in the interests of EU countries like Ireland as much as the UK."

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