In Brexit Britain, the breadwinners are packing up to move—and naturally their families are going with them.
Enrollment at international schools in the UK has slumped since the 2016 referendum, while across the channel schools catering to expats are seeing a surge in applications.
“Social infrastructure has been treated as a secondary consideration in Brexit, and for most people it’s actually the first,” said Nicholas Tonkes, a consultant at Oliver Wyman who’s studied the topic. “That shoe is beginning to drop.”
Shifting class sizes hint at larger changes set to ripple across Britain as the deadline for leaving the European Union approaches. With the UK threatening to quit the single market and the customs union, businesses are starting to move people and resources to mainland Europe. Bigger steps could be in store: Airbus said last month it would reconsider investments in the UK, where it has 14,000 employees, unless Britain and the EU strike a deal.
The finance industry alone may shift as many as 35,000 jobs outside Britain in a hard Brexit, Oliver Wyman estimates. That number could increase over time if the continent’s role as a financial centre grows, the consultant said in a February report. “
Brexit has definitely affected enrollment,” said Mary Langford, director of admissions at London’s Dwight School, which has seen a decline since 2015. “There is a lot of uncertainty for many industries, and I don’t think families are coming to London in the same waves.”
Schools are taking steps to adapt. The Collège Français Bilingue de Londres and Deutsche Schule London, for example, each surveyed parents in recent months to gauge their Brexit-related plans. A spokeswoman for CFBL said that while many parents weren’t sure if they’d stay or leave at the time of the survey, the school is nearly at capacity for next year. DSL didn’t have an immediate response to requests for comment.
Enrollment at a group of UK international schools tracked by ISC Research has fallen by more than 10 percent since before the Brexit vote, while annual fees have increased about 9 percent to 14,000 pounds ($18,480).
The exodus from Britain’s schools is leading to a corresponding increase in demand in Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley have already lined up school places in Frankfurt before moving employees to the German financial capital, according to two people with knowledge of the situation who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. Other banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., are looking at doing likewise, a person said. Spokesmen for the New York-based lenders declined to comment.
Marymount, an international school just outside Paris, has seen a 10 percent to 15 percent increase in applicants for the coming year from two years ago, according to Kate des Places, the external relations director. The International School of Paris had registered a 50 percent jump in new students from the same period last year, according to school head Simon Murray.
“We’ve seen a big spike in individual applications and have had a lot of contact from institutions in London in particular,” said Murray. “One thing that’s very clear: they will not be able to bring their key people with them unless they can guarantee a high quality of education.”
Both ISP and Marymount held information sessions for parents at banks and other companies in London in recent months. In February, ISP officials met with the European Banking Authority, which has committed to moving to Paris following Brexit, Murray said. The European Medicines Agency, which employs about 900 people, is also uprooting, from London to Amsterdam.
Schools on the continent are starting up or expanding to absorb the demand. ISP is opening a third campus in Paris this September, creating at least 300 additional places on top of the 700 it already has. In Dublin, the first school offering the International Baccalaureate for kids of all ages is opening in September, with 800 places.
There may still be a shortage of suitable schools in some cities, said Harriet Plyler, the editor of The Good Schools Guide International. “No one wants their kids to be part of an experiment, which is in effect what all new schools are,” she said.
Whether the dip in UK enrollments lasts or worsens may depend on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. Even now some schools in London are expanding. Southbank International School, which has campuses in Hampstead, Kensington and Westminster, purchased the BBC’s old headquarters in March. A new campus will open this fall and boost capacity to about 1,000 students from 800 currently.
For some parents, the thinning ranks at London’s international schools has been a blessing. Gabrielle, a mother of three girls, moved to London from Hong Kong in January and got all of them into Ecole Marie D’Orliac, part of the French Lycee.
“I applied to several schools and was surprised to get so many positive answers,” she said, asking that her last name not be used to maintain her privacy. “I think this is due to Brexit, and I was told this wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago as many schools were full.”
“Given the interest in increasing the number and scale of spaceflight launches, it’s easy to extrapolate the tremendous effect that commercial space operations could have on the US airline industry,” Tim Canoll, president of the APA, said Tuesday at a hearing of a House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee in Washington.
Canoll, whose union represents 60,000 US and Canadian pilots, cautions that more work is needed to make the two industries operate seamlessly. “Commercial space launch needs to be better integrated into the national airspace,” he said, noting that FAA operations don’t have “real-time data” on rockets’ movements.
SpaceX isn’t that worried. The US licensed only 23 commercial launches last year, noted Caryn Schenewerk, its senior counsel and director of government affairs. The Falcon 9 exceeds 60,000 feet on launch “in a quick 90 seconds,” with its reusable rocket boosters only requiring use of the airspace for one minute before landing, she said.
As the launch industry matures, the ultimate goal is to incorporate spacecraft into the routine flow of the 42,000 daily aircraft that the FAA controls, making a SpaceX Falcon 9 bound for the International Space Station no different than an American A321 headed to Miami. “The next step,” said Canoll, is to put space travel and air travel together, so rockets “can operate along with us.”
There is a lot of money at stake. Airlines say their average cost of “block time,” the industry metric for the period when an aircraft is taxiing or flying, was $68.48 per minute in 2017, or $4,109 hourly, led by crew and jet fuel expenses. The average delay of those 563 flights on Feb. 6 was 8 minutes. For perspective, 10 flights delayed by 10 minutes costs about $70,000, ALPA noted. To make matters worse, the block time average is likely to rise this year—further aggravating airline executives and pilots whenever a SpaceX or United Launch Alliance LLC rocket closes airspace. That pain may eventually be passed on to passengers, of course.
“These restrictions have led to extensive and expensive delays to commercial air traffic that are unsustainable,” ALPA said in a white paper released Tuesday.
The US airlines’ trade group, Airlines for America (A4A), has urged the FAA to “carefully consider the safety and efficiency impacts to the traveling public” in crafting an integration plan, spokeswoman Alison McAfee said in an email. For example, the group expressed “grave concerns” this month about a proposed Spaceport Colorado, which would be located at a small airport less than 10 miles southeast of Denver International, the fifth-busiest US airport.
This kind of uneasy coexistence has become the norm as the FAA continues to restrict airspace for commercial launches and re-entry, often for an hour or more. The closed space can extend for hundreds of miles along a rocket’s planned flight path, given the potential risks if a craft explodes in flight. That area will need to decrease over time to minimize airline disruptions, industry experts told Congress. Specifically, they said computer simulations of such disasters block off more airspace than necessary.
In March, the FAA formed an aviation committee to assemble recommendations for a regulatory approach to the commercial launch industry. The new rules will offer safety objectives while not dictating any vehicle design or operational mandates for space firms.
Tests have shown that rocket telemetry data can flow into current air-traffic control systems and give controllers real-time awareness on the vehicle’s movement. Of course, air traffic controllers direct an aircraft’s course and speed—a power they won’t have with space vehicles.
Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s deputy general counsel, told the House panel “this is a very solvable problem.”
The industry and regulators need to develop tools to help further existing efforts to build a space data integrator system, designed to automate the flow of real-time rocket data and the release of blocked airspace because, she said, “we are smart enough to solve this problem.”