EasyJet to establish post-Brexit base in Vienna

In preparation for Brexit negotiations, EasyJet plan to set up new headquarters in Austria, in case the UK fails to negotiate the same aviation agreements it currently maintains with the EU.

EasyJet moving their headquarters to Vienna, in wake of Brexit
Budget airline EasyJet has applied for permission from European aviation authorities to establish a new headquarters in Austria, to enable it to continue operating internal flights within the EU after Brexit.The airline, which is currently based in both the UK and Switzerland, said on Friday that its application for an air operator’s certificate (AOC) in Vienna was “well advanced” and that it expected to be granted approval in the near future.

Pushing for ‘open skies’ after Brexit

While the company said it would continue to press for the UK to be part of an ‘open skies’ policy after Brexit, it said it had decided to go ahead with the creation of a new airline – EasyJet Europe – in case Britain fails to negotiate the same aviation freedoms it currently enjoys.The company said the move would enable the airline to operate flights both across Europe and domestically within Europe once Britain leaves the EU, “regardless of the outcome of talks on a future UK-EU aviation agreement”.The establishment of the new hub is expected to cost the company £10 million and will create new jobs in Austria. The airline said none of the 1,000 jobs in the UK would move to Austria and that “nothing will change” as far as passengers were concerned.“All of EasyJet’s UK employees will continue to be based in Luton and our 11 UK bases and employed as they are today,” the company said.

Concern for flights once Brexit is complete

The restructuring of the business will involve the re-registering of 110 aircraft under Austrian jurisdiction. The Guardian reported, “EasyJet still faces legal uncertainty over whether it will be able to fly between the UK and Europe, and on what terms, after Brexit.“Ryanair repeated its warnings to the European parliament this week that there was a real prospect of no flights operating between the EU and UK for a period in 2019. EasyJet said it was continuing to push for negotiators to reach an aviation agreement which, at a minimum, will enable flights between the UK and EU.”Under the new structure, the three EasyJet airlines will be owned by EasyJet plc, which will be EU-owned and controlled, listed on the London Stock Exchange and based in the UK. But the measures will not protect the company if a Brexit agreement cannot be reached on the continuation of flights between the UK and the EU.
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An EasyJet spokeswoman said, “Given the importance of aviation to all the economies of Europe as an enabler of trade, tourism and travel, we think it is important that the aviation market remains as open and competitive as possible.“EasyJet will continue to push for the EU and UK to reach an aviation agreement which at a minimum will enable flights between the UK and EU.“We have had positive discussions with the UK and European governments and the EU on this, and it is a position which is supported by other major European airlines.”Existing rules stipulate that airlines operating within the bloc must be majority owned by EU nationals. EasyJet believes it will remain majority EU-owned after Brexit as founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and his family – who hold Cypriot passports – own a third of the shares.
Read David Sapsted's article on Establishing Right to Remain – which discusses the uncertainty over immigration which the UK faces following Brexit – in the Summer 2017 issue of Relocate Magazine.
For related news and features, visit our Brexit section.

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