GIBRALTAR’S International Airport has become the latest bargaining chip in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.
Spain has signaled that it will block Britain’s access to the EU’s single aviation market unless any new terms exclude Gibraltar Airport.
Britain – whose airline industry is worth £60 billion – is scrambling to ensure continued air links with the EU after it withdraws from the union.
Potential agreements include retaining membership of the European Common Aviation Area, which would uphold full access, or seeking a bilateral ‘open skies’ agreement, which would have more restrictive terms.
But Spain is not prepared to accept a deal that will grant Gibraltar airport the same rights as UK mainland airports.
It is already holding up three other pieces of airline legislation in Brussels.
An unnamed Spanish diplomat told the Financial Times: “Any EU agreement with the UK on aviation cannot apply to the airport of Gibraltar.
“A deal that is applicable to the airport of Gibraltar would imply recognition of the legal right of the UK to the territory.”
Any agreement regarding aviation legislation must be agreed by all 28 member states.
The comments suggest a 300-year political dispute over the Rock could become a key stumbling block during Brexit negotiations.