EasyJet applies for operator's certificate in Austria in post-Brexit plan

Gatwick Airport stock
Gatwick Airport stock

EasyJet has applied for a new air operator's certificate (AOC) in Austria to allow it to continue flying in the European Union after Brexit.

The carrier said the accreditation process is "well advanced" and it hopes to receive the AOC "in the near future".

It will allow the company to continue to operate flights across Europe and domestically within Europe after the UK withdraws from the EU.

EasyJet, which currently has airlines based in the UK and Switzerland, will establish a third, easyJet Europe, headquartered in Austria.

A spokeswoman said "nothing will change" from the perspective of passengers, and all the people and planes that will fly for easyJet Europe are already employed and based in the EU27 countries.

The single market for aviation, created in the 1990s, means there are no commercial restrictions for airlines flying within the EU.

UK ministers say maintaining "liberal access" to European aviation markets will be a "top priority" during Brexit negotiations.

EasyJet previously insisted it would not reveal the location of its new AOC until the application was granted, but it made the announcement after it became clear it would emerge as the approval process requires updating its safety systems and processes.

The company is forking out £10 million for the AOC.

Around 30% of easyJet passengers are flying on routes between and within the EU27, not touching the UK.

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 an agreement cannot be reached to enable flights between the UK and the EU to continue.

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."

The establishment of easyJet Europe will create a number of new jobs in Austria but no jobs will move from the UK.

Current rules state that airlines operating within the EU must be majority owned by EU nationals.

EasyJet says it is confident it will remain majority EU owned after Brexit as founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and his family - who hold Cypriot passports - have 33% of shares.