UK MPs deny Brits will be warned not to book flights in case of a no-deal Brexit

Several UK newspapers ran a story over the weekend claiming British nationals would be warned not to book any flights to or from EU countries after March 29, an allegation MPs categorically deny.

UK MPs deny Brits will be warned not to book flights in case of a no-deal Brexit
Photos: AFP

Downing Street denied on Sunday it was planning to advise British citizens to refrain from booking flights to or from European Union countries after the Brexit date, following an article in the Sunday Times claiming ministers would do so as part of a no-deal contingency plan.

The allegation, which was echoed in other British dailies such as Metro, The Sun and The Mirror, is based on alleged information from senior officials who told the weekend broadsheet they had “explored the idea” with at least one cabinet minister. 

A No 10 spokesperson told the BBC on Sunday the report was “categorically untrue.”

The European Commission has also previously said that even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, flights between the UK and EU would operate as usual.

“The UK government has offered similar assurances for EU airlines,” writes travel advice group ABTA on its website in response to the news.

“There is nothing to suggest that you will not be able to continue with your holiday plans after 29 March.” 

The travel warning rumour comes just days after it was confirmed Brits would not require a visa to visit EU countries post-Brexit but will need to apply for and buy a €7 (£6.30) authorization document called an ETIAS, which will be valid for three years. The system is expected to come into force in 2021.

Under the current Brexit deal, UK nationals and EU citizens will be able to continue to travel freely with a passport or ID until the end of the transition period in December 2020.

After that date, travel between the EU and UK will depend on whether the UK government is willing to offer visa-free travel to EU citizens, a proposal the European Commission has already suggested. 

There are currently 5,052 flights operating between UK and Spanish airports each week.

In 2017, over 82 million tourists visited Spain, with Britons forming the largest single contingent of tourists.

There are also 280,000 Brits registered as residents in Spain and 117,000 Spaniards living in the UK.

Last November, Ryanair reported record numbers of bookings to EU countries for the months ahead, saying sales hadn't even been affected for the days immediately on and around 29 March 2019.

By contrast air industry insiders International Air Transport Association (IATA) argued in October that 95 percent of flights between the UK and Spain could collapse in a no-deal scenario.


Spain has third most powerful passport in the world

Those with Spanish citizenship are in luck because their passports are the third most powerful in the world, meaning they can travel to many different countries without the need for a visa.

Spain has third most powerful passport in the world

If you want to go on a last-minute break, it’s really only possible to countries that don’t require you to apply for a visa beforehand or issue you with a visa upon arrival. 

The Henley Passport Index is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and each year it reveals the number of destinations that passport holders from around the world can access without a prior visa.

The index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations and offers all kinds of information on global mobility, ultimately revealing which passports are the most powerful. 

Each country is scored on the total number of destinations that a holder of its passport can access without a visa. For each travel destination, if a visa is not required, they receive a score of one. This also applies if holders are able to obtain a visa on arrival, visitor permit or electronic travel authorisation (ETA) upon entry.

The rankings for 2023 show that Spain, along with Germany, is in joint third place, meaning that Spanish passport holders can visit a total of 191 countries without needing a visa.

READ ALSO: Why Spain is second favourite country for Americans to move to

In joint first place are Japan and Singapore whose passport holders can visit a total of 193 countries without requiring a visa.

They are closely followed by South Korea in second place, whose passport holders can visit a total of 192 countries.

After Spain and Germany, there are several European countries on the list. Those from Finland, Italy and Luxembourg come in fourth place, able to visit 189 destinations, while those from Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden come in fifth place able to visit 188 destinations.

These are followed by passports from France, Ireland, Portugal and the United Kingdom in sixth place, allowing them to visit 188 countries without a visa.

According to the rankings, only 17 percent of countries give their passport holders access to more than 80 percent of the world without a visa.

The three countries with the least powerful passports are Afghanistan whose holders can only visit 27 countries without the need for a visa, Iraq with a score of 29 and Syria with a score of 30.