The Dutch infrastructure minister has claimed that it would take at least a week “in a super optimistic” setting to make a deal with Britain to restore flight traffic if Brexit forces all UK aeroplanes flying to Europe to be grounded.
Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Cora van Nieuwenhuizen said that the Netherlands would need that time to make a deal with the UK if a hard Brexit causes disruption to air traffic.
A no-deal situation could mean that the UK also leaves the ‘Single European Sky’ agreement.
This could have serious consequences for British air transport firms as well as European airlines with a strong presence in the UK, such as Dutch flag carrier KLM, which alone connects its hub in Amsterdam to 17 airports across the UK.
Van Nieuwenhuizen previously warned that without a deal, these flights from the UK to the European mainland could be left grounded.
This week the European Commission, European Parliament and the Council of the European Union – which is made up of government ministers from each European Union (EU) country according to the policy area to be discussed – will meet to discuss an emergency plan to prevent such a mass grounding of flights after Brexit.
Van Nieuwenhuizen, however, said that the Netherlands is willing to make a deal all alone with the UK if other EU countries make any agreement impossible by taking a hard stance.
She said: “There is a script ready to directly start talks with our British colleagues. The negotiations can start within the hour.
“We want to ensure above all that flights can continue to operate.”
Van Nieuwenhuizen, however, refuses to begin Anglo-Dutch negotiations while the EU is still trying to make a deal.
She said: “We agreed that we would continue the European unity.
“We assume a European solution and if not, we will try to solve it ourselves.”
Van Nieuwenhuizen told Dutch parliament that such a deal “can be arranged within a week in a super optimistic version”.
The minister said that “the time is ticking away to find a solution” and pressured her fellow EU transport colleagues, saying that they “really have to start making choices”.
In the case of a no-deal Brexit, the Netherlands can fall back to an Anglo-Dutch aviation treaty from 1946, although every single flight operating between the countries would need to be accredited by the authorities which would be a time-consuming affair.
According to local media, UK pilots’ licences, cabin crew and technical aspects may not be recognised by EU countries unless a deal is reached.
Even if the UK leaves the European Union in March this year with a deal, there will be a one-year transition period to readjust all aviation deals between the UK and EU.
In 2017, 10,146,619 passengers travelled on routes between the UK and Schiphol Amsterdam Airport.