Air bridge between Belgium and UK seeks to avoid Brexit delays
Tuesday, 05 January 2021
Ostend Airport. Credit: Belga
An air bridge between Ostend and Birmingham is being set up by a British airline to circumvent possible delays in ports as a result of Brexit.
The airline, Jota Aviation, and logistics company Priority Freight want “to keep supply chains moving through new customs challenges and the predicted congestion at ports” due to the end of a transition phase in which the UK remained part of the EU’s customs union and single market.
The air bridge will operate twice a day from Birmingham to Ostend and back, according to both companies, and will start from Monday, New Mobility News reports.
While the EU and the UK reached a trade agreement (just eight days before the end of the Brexit transition period) and thus managed to avoid operationg under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules with high tariffs and extensive customs checks, there are changes to the formalities, which could cause delays at ports and terminals.
Those delays would be unwelcome when it comes to goods like medical products that need to be transported quickly.
While the first days after the end of the Brexit transition period reportedly went by without any significant problems, the head of Zeebrugge’s customs expects a peak in activity “in two to three weeks,” he told De Tijd.
When that time comes, companies that are not prepared for the change in formalities “will end up in traffic jams,” according to customs Brexit coordinator Annie Vanherpe.
“But that will trigger companies to put their administration in order,” she added in De Tijd. “I expect the traffic jams will disappear as fast as they come.”
“Exporting to the UK will become more cumbersome and will lead to additional costs, but it will still be doable if you are well prepared,” she concluded.