UK-based airline easyJet will open a new European headquarters in Vienna, Austria amid Brexit uncertainty.
The UK risks losing access to Europe’s internal “open skies” arrangement after 2019, so the new airline, EasyJet Europe, hopes it will be able to continue to operate flights within the EU once the UK leaves the union.
EasyJet said its application for an air operator certificate from Austria was “well advanced” and it expected to receive its licence in the “near future”.
Te re-registering of 110 aircraft under Austrian jurisdiction will cost at least £10m, The Guardian reported.
A spokeswoman for the prime minister Theresa May said EasyJet had made a “commercial decision” and that the government was working to guarantee the best deal for business.
The UK government has insisted that “liberal access” to European aviation markets will be a priority in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.
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EasyJet said in a statement:
While the new structure will protect all of EasyJet’s current flying rights within Europe, EasyJet will continue to push for the UK and EU to reach an aviation agreement which, at a minimum, will enable flights between the UK and EU.
Easyjet will retain its London Stock Exchange listing and its Luton headquarters.
EasyJet, which employs 4,000 staff in continental Europe, provided reassurance that the new location would not affect its 6,000 UK employees.
Ryanair, one of EasyJet’s biggest competitors, repeated its warnings to the European parliament earlier this week that there was a strong possibility that no flights would operate between the EU and UK for a period in 2019.