Fewer flights could run between UK and US after the UK leaves the European Union after the US offered a more limited so-called Open Skies aviation deal after Brexit.

However, those involved in negotiations have said they’re confident that the lucrative transatlantic market would continue unimpeded once the UK leaves the trading bloc in March 2019.

The US has so far only offered standard access rights for airlines like British Airways and Virgin because they are majority owned by non-British or US firms.

Under existing arrangements, UK-based airlines are covered by the Open Skies treaty that requires them to be majority EU owned.

What was said:

Sean Kennedy, senior vice president for global government affairs at Airlines for America, told Bloomberg:

For the airline industry, discussions with the UK are making significant progress. We are pleased with the leadership of both countries in reaching a new agreement as soon as possible.

We are highly confident in their desire to reach a deal

The UK Department for Transport said in a statement yesterday:

Our discussions with the US about a new UK-US air service agreement have been positive and we have made significant progress. Both sides want to conclude these discussions soon.

All parties have a shared interest in ensuring that existing rights will continue under the new bilateral arrangements, allowing airlines on both sides of the Atlantic to continue to operate existing services as well as to seek to develop new ones.

International Airlines Group, which owns British Airways, said:

We have every confidence that the US and UK will sign a deal that is in everyone’s interests and that IAG will comply with the EU and UK ownership and control regulations post Brexit.

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Virgin Atlantic said it remained “assured that a new liberal agreement will be reached, allowing us to keep flying to all of our destinations in North America”.

The Financial Times reports British and American negotiators secretly met in January for the first formal talks on a new air services deal. It’s thought British and US officials aim to resolve the difficulties and reach an accord soon.

Background:

The EU US Open Skies agreement was brought in ten years ago to provide uniform rules for airlines and airports — and has led to an estimated 18% increase in transatlantic traffic from 2006 to 2016.

It allows any airline of the European Union and any airline of the US to fly between any point in the European Union and any point in the US.