LONDON (Reuters) - The chance that flights will be grounded between the UK and the European Union in the event of a no-deal Brexit is “close to zero”, said Cyprus’s tourism minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis.
The economy of Cyprus, a Mediterranean island which is also an EU member, is heavily dependent on tourism, and over a third of its annual 4 million visitors come from the UK.
Asked about the possible impact of Brexit, and specifically a no-deal Brexit, where the UK would leave the European Union next March without new aviation rights or other new trade links agreed, the minister said a worst case scenario on flights would be avoided.
“I see the probability of flights being grounded between the EU and the UK pretty close to zero,” he said.
“No aviation connection will impact everything so it is not to the interest of anyone for such an eventuality. ..That’s why I sound optimistic regardless of the outcome of negotiations for a Brexit deal or not.”
The chief executive of Ryanair (RYA.I), one of Europe’s biggest airlines, has warned that if there is a no-deal Brexit, UK flights could be grounded for up to three weeks.
Lakkotrypis said that Cyprus would be able to maintain connections with Britain whatever the outcome of Brexit.
“Let’s not forget we’re also members of the Commonwealth so we have had strong ties even before Cyprus joined the European Union so I think it will come natural for us to rebuild ties,” he said in an interview on Monday.
Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Kate Holton