​Over the last six months there has been much commentary on what may or may not emerge, both pre-and-post Brexit, that could affect aviation in the UK. What’s certain is that with the London business aviation market being the largest in Europe – clocking up 78,000 movements a year – the impact of restricted access hereon in could be hugely significant for the health of numerous operators, all over the continent.

Some nonchalantly imagine that common-sense will prevail and little will change for the mutual benefit of players on both sides of the Channel, but I’m wary of where things might go.

There’s a strong chance aviation and access to the UK market, or indeed access to the European market, could be used as a bargaining chip in the armory that both sides have to play with. Airlines are already taking precautionary measures by ensuring they have ownership structures and AOC options that allow them to hedge against rules that might be a hindrance to their current modus operandi.

Ideally, what we all want is the same freedoms afforded today; to fly anywhere we want, on any common registers, between any two points in Europe regardless of flight origin, destination or otherwise. What we don’t seem to have is enough time to formalise conclusive post-Brexit rules for aviation – it is clear that divorce negotiations come before any new trade arrangements.

If, worst case, we have a “hard” Brexit and revert to WTO rules, the problem is that there are no rules for aviation specifically outlined under WTO arrangements. Instead, we would have to revert to any bilateral arrangements that may have existed pre-EU membership (you’re talking about different arrangements for all 27 countries), if any of those would still be deemed valid.

The EU Negotiating Directives (ND) clearly dictate that the future EU27-UK relationship can only be finalised once the UK has become a third country – i.e. not before 30th March, 2019. As such, a transitional arrangement will be inevitable. The EU ND rules clearly dictate there will be no cherry-picking of course, but this excludes a separate deal for aviation.

Will 3rd and 4th Freedoms (of the air) be afforded to UK operators – as per the U.S. and Canada etc., or restrictions be applied to 5th Freedoms whilst 7th, 8th and 9th Freedoms not be granted as they effectively apply to what would have been the status as a member of the Single Market? These are profound questions for charter operators on both sides of the Channel.

Our industry will call for the most liberal regime for aviation in terms of market access, but we simply won’t have a clue as to where that is going until early 2019.

The value of Sterling is such that certain costs have inevitably gone up – for instance, jet fuel is priced globally in U.S. dollars as a rule and, therefore, in relative terms is 15% more expensive than it would have been when bought in UK currency.

Complications will inevitably emerge when trading aircraft and placing them on alternative registers – nobody knows quite what the position of the Isle of Man, Guernsey, and Jersey registers and their ongoing freedoms will be.

Hand in hand with that goes the multiple complexities of VAT, duty and other taxes when moving our metal around from one jurisdiction to another – again there’s no clarity whatsoever on where the land may lay in the future.

Insurance too comes into play across pretty much every aspect of aircraft ownership. The widely-held assumption by industry is that we’ll all continue to adhere to EASA rules as a default. We can be an adopter of EASA rules but will have no say or influence in their changes and formulation moving forward. That doesn’t sound like a great arrangement when considering it is the UK that was hugely influential in all such legislation to date.

On and on the list of questions goes. For those that can, they will simply cover all eventualities by having mirrored operations on European AOCs. For those for whom that is not practical, what then?

Now is absolutely not the time to shrug shoulders. This is going to be incredibly complex, messy, tortuous and costly. We’d better brace ourselves accordingly.