So much for the Project Fear line about a clean Brexit (“crashing out” as they melodramatically call it) meaning no aeroplanes will be able to fly across The Channel: the EU says:
The Commission has today adopted two measures that will avoid full interruption of air traffic between the EU and the UK in the event of no deal. These measures will only ensure basic connectivity and in no means replicate the significant advantages of membership of the Single European Sky. This is subject to the UK conferring equivalent rights to EU air carriers, as well as the UK ensuring conditions of fair competition.
- A proposal for a Regulation to ensure temporarily (for 12 months) the provision of certain air services between the UK and the EU.
- A proposal for a Regulation to extend temporarily (for 9 months) the validity of certain aviation safety licences.
So, sensibly, the EU says it will allow UK planes in the EU if the UK allows EU planes in the UK. Good. The UK should say the same; indeed, it has already done so. But never mind too much about what they say they will do; the proper reaction is according to what they actually do.
But who is “they”? The EU? Or each EU country?
There is something to be said for the later. Air France, for example, flies between London and Edinburgh. Should the UK continue to allow it to do so? That should depend, I suggest, on whether France allows British Airways to fly from Paris to Lyon. It is in everyone’s interest for the answer to be “Yes, yes”.
Likewise, how the UK deals with pensions of Spanish people living in the UK should depend on how Spain deals with Brits living in Spain.
Likewise, customs duties on cars, champagne etc.
In the game of Prisoner’s Dilemma, it has been shown that the best strategy is to be nice, but to retaliate once if your opposite number behaves badly. It is a strategy that has much to recommend itself more widely.
And dealing with each EU country individually in such a way (much as the Eurocrats in Brussels would hate it) is probably the best prospect for mutually cordial and beneficial relationships between the UK and the EU nations in the future.
EU countries might well say: “We will whatever Brussels tells us to do”.
But they have a habit of saying one thing and doing another.
In this scenario the UK would envisage granting permission to EU airlines to continue to operate. We would expect EU countries to reciprocate in turn.
 And UK government is onto that, too, albeit only as an alternative, saying:
In order to ensure permissions were granted and flights continued, the UK’s preference would be to agree a basic arrangement or understanding on a multilateral basis between the UK and the EU. Alternatively, bilateral arrangements between the UK and an individual EU country could be put in place, specifying the conditions under which air services would be permitted. By definition any such agreement would be reciprocal in nature.