This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

As many as 5 million airline tickets could be canceled in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to the aviation trade group International Air Transport Association (IATA).

In the event of a hard Brexit, the number of flights between the UK and the rest of Europe would be capped at 2018’s level, meaning that UK-based carriers could not add any new flights for 2019. That potentially means that UK airlines could not operate thousands of new flights they have scheduled for 2019 and would have to cancel them.

IATA’s research estimates that there up to 5 million extra seats on these new flights added by airlines to their 2019 schedules to meet consumer demand. “Many of these will be in the peak summer season when families will be booking holidays,” the group said in a recent statement. “These are at risk if a ‘no deal’ Brexit occurs.”

The group, which represents 290 airlines worldwide, said the majority of flights would likely be able to continue as scheduled, despite any deal (or lack thereof) that UK lawmakers make on Brexit.

“That current flight levels will be protected even with a hard Brexit is an important assurance,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, said in the statement. “But with two months left until Britain leaves the EU, airlines still do not know exactly what kind of Brexit they should be planning for. And there is legal and commercial uncertainty over how the Commission’s plan to cap flight numbers will work. In the small window remaining before Brexit, it is imperative that the EU and UK prioritize finding a solution that brings certainty to airlines planning growth to meet demand and to travelers planning business trips and family holidays.”

In addition to ruining millions of travelers’ plans, the cap could even inflate remaining airfares, too, IATA said, noting there is “uncertainty for both travelers and airlines about post-Brexit air connectivity.”

Earlier in January, Dublin-based Ryanair established a specific UK-based airline, dubbed Ryanair UK, to ensure a legal path to continue operations in the UK should a no-deal Brexit happen. That move was approved by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority on Jan. 4.

Fellow UK carrier EasyJet took a similar approach, setting up a new company based in Vienna and locking in EU approval to continue to operate flights within Europe.

British Airways insists that it will not be affected by a no-deal Brexit. “BA will continue to fly all its customers to their destinations and operate a normal schedule, including to new routes,” an airline spokesperson told TPG in an email Monday.

The airline’s parent company, IAG, has reportedly been working with Spain’s government to ensure its operations will be able to continue after the looming official Brexit date, March 29, the Guardian reported. IAG also owns Iberia, Veuling, Aer Lingus and low-cost carrier Level. The group’s CEO, Willie Walsh, has publicly scoffed at insinuations that IAG would face negative Brexit consequences, arguing that the group has accounted for complex aviation regulations in the EU and beyond, according to the Guardian.

Ryanair’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, has said that IAG would not survive Brexit unless it made regulatory changes. TPG reached out to Ryanair for comment but did not receive a response by publication.

If you are planning to book a flight between the UK and Europe before Brexit on March 29, make sure to purchase the tickets with a credit card that offers trip protection, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Citi Prestige and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. These cards offer trip cancelation and delay protection, and can give a little peace of mind among all the Brexit unpredictability.

Flights between the US and UK should continue as usual post-Brexit under an “open skies” deal the two countries agreed upon in November.

Featured image by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

Know before you go.

News and deals straight to your inbox every day.

The best beginner points and miles card out there.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 points! With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 60,000 point sign up bonus worth up to $1,200 in value, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.