Blog: British airlines borrowing EU planes to get around Brexit rules – The Independent

Several UK airlines are borrowing European aircraft as a loophole to get around recruitment issues caused by Brexit.

Carriers including British Airways, easyJet and Tui have adopted the tactic of “wet-leasing” planes from European airlines to dodge post-Brexit rules around staff visas.

Following the Brexit transition, UK airlines require EU staff working on UK-registered planes to hold a British visa. However, leasing an EU-registered plane means it can be staffed by an EU-resident crew.

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

Meanwhile, easyJet and Tui have both leased planes operated by Latvia’s SmartLynx airline, with Tui also contracting two from Lithuanian carrier Avion Express.


From a customer 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.

Several British airlines have blamed staff shortages and slow recruitment processes for operational problems this spring and summer, with easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren this morning outright blaming Brexit rules for the carrier’s staffing problems.

“The pool of people is smaller, it’s just maths,” Mr Lundgren told The Independent.

“We have had to turn down a huge number of EU nationals because of Brexit.”

He said the airline was having 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 attempt to take off on their first holiday since the Covid pandemic began.

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


European airports including Amsterdam’s Schiphol are reviewing their ability to operate 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 capping the number of flights it will handle to 825 per day in July and 850 per day in August, meaning up to 50 flights a day will have to be axed.

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