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Brexit and aviation: still no clarity, even as UK government sets timeframe and broad principles
Over seven months after the UK voted in a referendum to leave the European Union, the longer term impact on aviation remains uncertain. The UK Prime Minister Theresa May will almost certainly gain parliamentary authority to trigger Article 50 by her planned deadline of the end of Mar-2017, taking the UK out of the EU by Mar-2019.
On 17-Jan-2017 Mrs May set out 12 principles which will guide the UK in its negotiations with the European Union over the terms of its exit. These principles formed the basis of a White Paper outlining the government's planned approach to the Brexit negotiations. Among other things, the UK does not plan continued membership of the EU Single Market and wishes to control immigration.
There is now a clear timeframe for the Brexit negotiations and a broad framework to guide the UK government in these talks, but still no clarity for aviation. There are obstacles to the UK's continued membership of the European Common Aviation Area, and a bilateral approach may now be more likely. The UK Transport Secretary wants the "best possible access to European aviation markets", but is not yet able to say how that can be achieved.
Georgia aviation market Part 2: a case study on liberal policies driving rapid airport growth
Georgia’s three international airports have benefitted from a liberal aviation policy, which has led to a period of rapid traffic growth. As highlighted in the first half of this report, total passenger traffic in Georgia increased by 26% in 2016 and is projected to grow by another 40% in 2017.
Passenger traffic at Georgia’s main gateway, Tbilisi International Airport, increased by 22% in 2016. Tbilisi traffic has grown from only 700,000 in 2009 to 2.3 million in 2016. The airport has been operated by Turkey’s TAV since 2007.
Georgia’s other two international airports, at Batumi and Kutaisi, grew even faster in 2016. Batumi also has been operated by TAV since 2007, while Kutaisi has been government owned since it opened in 2012.
Kutaisi is marketed as a low cost airport – the first of its kind in former Soviet republics – and has experienced an accelerated rate of growth since the opening of a base by Wizz Air in Sep-2016. Georgia’s investment in Kutaisi, and decision to pursue an LCC model for the new airport, represent another example of a liberal and innovative approach in a region dominated by legacy thinking.