Brexit and aviation: A Swiss perspective
*We are grateful to our colleague Dr Laurent Chassot of gbf Attorneys-at-law (Geneva) for his valuable contribution to this article
The situation of Switzerland in relation to the EU is instructive as it illustrates the consequences that might arise for UK carriers if a Swiss type/EFTA arrangement was established.
Since 2002, Switzerland’s relationship with the EU in a number of policy areas is governed by so-called “sectorial agreements”. One of them applies to air transport. The Swiss-EU air transport agreement has been described by officials, in colourful language, as an extension of the European sky over Switzerland, as it has achieved the full integration of Switzerland in the European aviation market and regulatory environment.
For the purpose of this agreement, Switzerland is considered as a Member State of the EU and Swiss carriers as European carriers. That way, European carriers have obtained unrestricted access to all routes to and from Switzerland, and Swiss carriers’ access to all routes between Switzerland and any Members States, as well as between Member States (7th freedom right).
Only cabotage (9th freedom right) has been excepted so far from this comprehensive grant of traffic rights. Furthermore, the agreement contains an annex that lists EU legislation which the parties have agreed to apply in their relationship. This annex is updated from time to time by a joint committee established under the agreement.
As a result, as of today, almost every piece of EU legislation pertaining to air transport/aviation has been taken over in the annex and applies to Switzerland and Swiss carriers. In other words, although the EU-Switzerland agreement predated this concept, Switzerland is part of the ECAA.