British airlines borrow EU planes to circumvent Brexit rules

Several UK airlines are borrowing European planes as a loophole to get around hiring problems caused by Brexit.

Airlines such as British Airways, easyJet and Tui have adopted the tactic of “wet lease” planes from European airlines to circumvent post-Brexit rules around staff visas.

Following the Brexit transition, UK airlines require EU staff working on UK-registered aircraft to have a UK visa. However, leasing an aircraft registered in the EU means that it can be manned by an EU resident crew.

Despite having its own aircraft in storage, British Airways has chartered a handful of aircraft from codeshare partners Iberia (based in Spain) and Finnair (Finland).

Meanwhile, easyJet and Tui have leased planes operated by Latvian airline SmartLynx, with Tui also chartering two from Lithuanian airline Avion Express.

From the customer’s perspective, the experience will be the same as boarding a flight operated by a codeshare partner, for example a British Airways flight operated by Finnair.

A number of British airlines have blamed staffing shortages and slow recruitment processes for operational problems this spring and summer, with easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren this morning blaming Brexit rules squarely for the woes. airline staff.

“The group of people is smaller, it’s just math,” Lundgren said. the independent.

“We had to turn away a large number of EU citizens due to Brexit.”

He said the airline had to turn down “35-40 per cent” of potential staff due to nationality issues.

Travel chaos and mass flight cancellations have blighted spring and early summer as many Britons try to take off on their first holiday since the Covid pandemic began.

Earlier today, Heathrow Airport asked airlines flying out of Terminals 2 and 3 to cancel 10 per cent of their schedules for Monday due to mounting problems with baggage handling.

European airports, including Amsterdam’s Schiphol, are reviewing their ability to operate on planned schedules this summer, with Schiphol capping the number of passengers it will handle at 70,000 a day until the end of August.

Meanwhile, Gatwick Airport is limiting the number of flights it will handle to 825 a day in July and 850 a day in August, meaning up to 50 flights a day will have to be scrapped.

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