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'Drive to Scotland or get the ferry to Ireland': O'Leary repeats 'no flights' Brexit warning

O’Leary met the UK transport secretary today to outline his Brexit fears.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary.
Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

RYANAIR BOSS MICHAEL O’Leary has repeated his dire warnings about Brexit grounding UK flights for months by claiming that British holidaymakers will be limited to a choice between Ireland and Scotland in the Summer of 2019.

The outspoken CEO made the comments during an interview on BBC Newsnight ahead of a meeting today with UK transport secretary Chris Grayling.

O’Leary began the interview by noting that if the UK leaves the European Union it must automatically leave the “open skies” treaty, which removes restrictions on EU-based airlines flying throughout the union.

“Therefore as things stand there is no flight rights between the UK and Europe and vice versa. And it is a guillotine. It happens at the end of March.

The UK government therefore has to negotiate a bilateral, not with individual states but with the EU 27. And there is no sign of any bilateral being negotiated and no sign of any agreement.

“Remember, what’s key about aviation is, aviation comes up six months before March 2019. We’re filing our schedules for summer 2019 in September 2018 and if we don’t have the right to fly we will be cancelling those flights,” he said.

Source: BBC Newsnight/YouTube

When presenter Kristy Wark interjected to say that it is in everyone’s interests to get a deal done the Ryanair boss completely rejected the idea.

“That is the misunderstanding here in the UK, ‘it’s in everybody’s interests’. It is not in everybody’s interests. It’s in the European interest, certainly the European airlines, who are actively lobbying against this, to not have an agreement.

It’s not going to last for a couple of years. It will be for a couple of months in the summer of ’19. When you’re booking your holidays for the summer of ’19, the choice will be: drive to Scotland or get the ferry to Ireland.

Ryanair carries more than 30 million British passengers every year. During his meeting with Grayling today O’Leary again expressed his concerns about the impact of Brexit on aviation.

Speaking after the meeting he again repeated his pessimism about a deal being done.

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According to Reuters he told journalists: “It’s odds against a deal being done in advance of Christmas 2018, because it is in the Europeans’ interest to not have a deal done… and all hell will be kicking off over here in the UK.”

Grayling previously dismissed O’Leary’s fears. “It’s inconceivable that anyone on either side would want to stop planes flying,” he said in late July, Bloomberg reported.

“The implications for the tourist industries of parts of the EU of not having the aviation links that they have at the moment are deep and profound. Everyone benefits from having good aviation links and I haven’t the slightest doubt that post-2019 we will retain them.”

READ: Airlines claim passengers face ‘huge’ airport delays because of stricter EU border rules>

READ: Michael O’Leary’s pay package climbed even higher last year>

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Ceimin Burke

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