TWO airlines have pulled out of launching new services that would have boosted Liverpool John Lennon Airport’s global presence because of Brexit, councillors have been told.

Robin Tudor, head of PR and communications at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, addressed the Cheshire West and Chester Council post-Brexit policy commission on Wednesday night.

He told members that uncertainty over Britain’s departure from the European Union meant that two major European airlines have recently U-turned on plans to launch ‘hub access’ services on Merseyside.

The services would have provided connections to major European airports where connections can then be made to other cities around the world – and Mr Tudor suggested the ‘potentially key’ services would have benefitted Cheshire and North Wales, as well as the Liverpool City Region.

“The impact that we’ve seen from Brexit has been the uncertainty that it has created and has meant that airlines have pulled back from making decisions on growing business,” he said.

“It’s not unique to Liverpool I have to say, but we have certainly experienced it – certainly in recent months.

“Two airlines that we had been speaking to in particular, they had committed and actually filed for slots to run two new services for Liverpool – not big in terms of passenger numbers for us, but to two really important destinations which would have opened up what we call ‘hub access’.

“We don’t have that at this moment in time, so the significance of both these services was that it would get us into a global market.

“And the airlines have been quite clear in telling us they have pulled back from a major decision despite making forward slot applications, because of Brexit.

“They said it is simply because of the uncertainty that Brexit creates for them as a business they have pulled back from making decisions.”

Mr Tudor added that Brexit is adding uncertainty over ‘freedoms of flight’ – the rights to fly and land a plane from one country to another.

And he suggested that growth in passenger numbers at the airport has slowed down since November – although he insisted the airport is not ‘going backwards’.

Mr Tudor said: “It just appears that this uncertainty means that passengers are perhaps not booking that weekend away, or short half-term breaks or Christmas breaks, that we may have seen if it wasn’t for Brexit.”

However, Brexit could provide some opportunities for British airports like Liverpool John Lennon.

There could be an opportunity to make better returns from duty free sales if restrictions are relaxed, according to Mr Tudor.

He added that there are currently EU restrictions on supporting flights which are less commercially viable – even if there is a ‘real need’ for the service.

Mr Tudor said: “The example I would give is a flight perhaps for us into somewhere like Heathrow – a key airport which it may be difficult to justify purely in commercial terms for an airline to do it.

“But with Government support for a route to make it sustainable, that might be something that would be very interesting.

“At the moment, there are restrictions from the EU in UK Government being able to do that, so if those restrictions are lifted then it might give the UK Government a bit more flexibility to actually intervene and help.”