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12th Nov 2018

British Airways owners seek Spanish government help as Brexit looms

James Dawson

International Airlines Group currently has its headquarters in London

The owners of British Airways have approached the Spanish government for support as the company prepares for the possibility of a no deal Brexit.

International Airlines Group – the parent company of BA – has been in talks with Madrid since at least October, according to the Spanish newspaper El Pais. The company hopes that the Spanish government can help it retain its operating rights should Britain crash out of the European Union without a deal.

The management of IAG and the Spanish government have exchanged several letters as the company seeks to prove it can comply with the European Commission’s rules going forward. The group – formed as a merger of British Airways and Spain’s Iberia in 2011, along with budget airline, Vueling, and Ireland’s Aer Lingus – has its headquarters in London.

Flying rights to, from and within the European Union are currently covered by EU-wide “open skies” agreements, however, if Theresa May is unable to secure an exit deal with Brussels then British airlines ability to fly to across EU states without a permit would be jeopardised.

Government guidance on a potential deal released in September confirmed that a no deal Brexit could ground flights between Britain and EU countries. “If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no agreement in place, UK and EU licensed airlines would lose the automatic right to operate air services between the UK and the EU without seeking advance permission,” the government said.

However, a spokesperson for IAG told that the company “remains confident” that an air transport agreement between the EU and the UK will be reached.

“It’s in the UK and EU’s interests to have a fully liberalised aviation agreement,” they added.

“Aviation liberalisation has been a great success story across Europe benefitting one billion customers each year and creating a huge number of jobs across the continent.

“Even if there is no Brexit deal, both the EU and UK have said they will put an agreement in place that allows flights to continue.”