On 15 March 2018 the European Commission launched a public consultation on Regulation 1008/2008, looking at a number of areas of potential concern including competition between EU airlines, and the adequacy of consumer protection; the risk of hampering innovation in EU airline business models; risks affecting EU airlines' ability to maintain and develop their business in an increasingly global environment; and risks to EU consumers' ability to benefit from truly global airlines and strong competition in the EU internal aviation market. The public consultation will be open until 7 June 2018.

Regulation 1008 is central to the regulation of air transport throughout the EU and airlines will be especially interested to hear whether the Commission chooses to keep it in its current form; take a softer legislative approach by publishing guidance notes and improving application or enforcement action; or revise the Regulation 1008 directly. Currently, EU air carriers must be majority owned and effectively controlled by EU Member States or their nationals, and an air carrier not meeting these requirements is not eligible to take full advantage of the traffic right freedoms of the EU's internal air transport market.

For UK air carriers, changes to restrictions on ownership and control are at the forefront regardless of the outcome of the Commission's consultations, given the impact of Brexit. The UK's Civil Aviation Authority has generally taken a more liberal approach to airline ownership restrictions, and it is possible that post-Brexit the UK will move away from a nationality-based approach to ownership and control, although this very much depends on the outcome of the negotiations. More details of this and other developments can be found here: https://www.twobirds.com/en/news/articles/2018/global/recent-developments-inaviation-april-2018