Flights will continue as normal at Dublin and Cork Airports in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to an airport director.
Niall MacCarthy, the Dublin Airport Executive Brexit lead and Cork Airport managing director addressed an Irish Parliament Select Committee on Wednesday, outlining contigency plans for a crash Brexit on Ireland’s airports.
“I would like to reassure the Committee that we expect flights will continue to operate as normal at Dublin and Cork Airports in the event of a no-deal Brexit,” Mr MacCarthy said.
“If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, emergency regulation will come into force at EU level to protect air connectivity for passengers and freight between the EU and the UK.”
This EU regulation will take effect immediately in the event that the UK exits the EU without a deal on October 31 and will apply until October 2020.
The British government has also confirmed that it will mirror the provisions set out, in respect of the rights of EU air carriers within the UK.
Similarly, neither UK or Irish passports holders will encounter any significant security or administration changes entering the country, in the event of no-deal.
At airport immigration, UK passport holders arriving at Irish airports are currently processed through the EU/EEA/CH channel.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) has confirmed that UK passport holders will continue to be processed through the ‘EU/EEA/CH’ channel – however, this ‘EU/EEA/CH’ channel will be re-designated as an EU/EEA/CH and UK channel.
There will be no additional or onerous immigration checks applied to UK passport holders at Irish airports.
“It is important we all get this message out as there is likely to be confusion and uncertainty particularly with UK tourists considering coming to Ireland,” he added.
In terms of security processes, there will be no changes or additional requirements for UK-bound passengers departing from Irish airports as a result of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
UK-bound passengers will continue to comply with all current security processes and requirements, with no change anticipated.
“Furthermore, the Irish Government has now confirmed that duty-free shopping will return on alcohol and tobacco products if the UK leaves the EU without a deal,” Mr MacCarthy added.
“This means that passengers departing from Irish airports to UK airports will be able to purchase these products at duty-free prices, but only in the event of no deal.”
The committee heard that airports at Dublin and Cork are uniquely exposed to Brexit in a European airport context, given the significant traffic between Ireland and the UK.
UK passenger traffic accounted for 12% of total traffic flows across EU 27 airports in 2017, in contrast, UK traffic amounted to circa 38% of total Irish traffic.
Mr MacCarthy concluded that, ultimately, the greatest risk for Irish aviation from a ‘no deal’ Brexit is the wider economic impacts on tourism and business.
Failte Ireland has indicated at least 10,000 jobs would be lost in the tourism sector in Ireland, and believe there could be a loss of more than one million British tourists each year, resulting in the loss of 380 million euro per annum.
“For this reason, we in the aviation industry, strongly believe that everything possible should be done to avoid a no-deal Brexit, in order to safeguard tourism and all the jobs throughout the country which are dependent on it,” he said.