15 Nov

Brexit breakthrough?

It has been an interesting week for Brexit. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, told MPs in the House of Commons yesterday that the UK is ‘significantly closer’ to delivering Brexit after UK and EU officials agreed the draft text of a Brexit agreement. Since then, the Cabinet agreed to back the deal which was then followed by two resignations by Cabinet Ministers this morning.

What this tells us is that there is still a way to go before the industry has the much-needed certainty about what will happen after 29 March next year. The agreement needs to be finalised by the EU Council, who will meet on 25 November. If passed, the deal will then be debated and voted on by the UK Parliament and European Parliament. At this point it is difficult to say which way these votes will go, particularly in the UK.  

Given the ongoing uncertainty it is advisable that Members continue with contingency planning in order to make sure you are prepared, whatever the scenario.

Important information for customers
As there is just over four months to go until the UK leaves the EU, we’re now in a situation where there is important information your customers need to know and steps they may need to take now, for their holidays on or after 29 March 2019. For example, customers wishing to take their pet could need to speak to a vet four months before they are due to travel, in order to make sure they meet the necessary entry requirements. 

To support Members, ABTA is currently preparing information for you to share with your customers about what they may need to do ahead of their holiday next year. It will focus on reasonable actions travellers can take in order to avoid any unnecessary disruption. This information will be sent to Members in the next couple of weeks through an ABTA Today Special email, it will then be made available to consumers on our website a few days later. 

Visas and flights
Also this week, the European Commission issued its own technical notice on travelling between the EU and the UK in the event of a no-deal, which included a helpful clarification on visas. Maintaining visa-free travel has been a lobbying priority for ABTA throughout the Brexit negotiation process, and we welcome the announcement that UK travellers will not need a visa to travel to EU countries after March 2019, even in a no-deal scenario. It is worth recognising though, that this is subject to the UK reciprocating the arrangement. 

The notice also outlined the situation for UK airlines if a deal was not reached. Under the proposed arrangements, airlines operating flights between the UK and the EU could continue as usual. 

We are currently analysing the Commission’s full technical notice, and are working to update ABTA’s guidance ‘Supporting Members’ contingency planning for a no-deal scenario.’ 

Look out for updates in future ABTA Today emails, in the meantime you can contact membersinfo@abta.co.uk if you have any queries.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive