EasyJet setting up new airline in Austria to prepare for Brexit

EasyJet has applied for an Austrian air operator’s certificate (AOC) to allow it to continue flying in the European Union following Brexit.

The budget airline said accreditation for the certificate is “well advanced” and hopes it will be completed “in the near future”.

The Austrian AOC will enable EasyJet to continue to operate flights both across Europe and domestically within European countries after the UK has left the EU, regardless of the outcome of talks on a future UK-EU aviation agreement.

The new structure means EasyJet will become a pan European airline group with three airlines based in Austria, Switzerland and the UK, together with a commercial and operational services company based in the UK.

EasyJet said no jobs will be lost in the UK due to the move but that 100 jobs will be created in Austria.

The firm 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 remain 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.”

Last week the boss of Ryanair, EastJet’s biggest rival, threatened to begin moving from UK airports to European ones if a Brexit aviation deal is not made.

Ryanair chief executive, Michael O’Leary, told the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee: “The UK, if it doesn’t change policy, is heading for a hard Brexit. There will be a disruption to flights from April 2019 onwards for that summer.

“By September 2018 when your average British voter is sitting down to work out where he is going on his holidays in 2019, the two options he will have are to drive to Scotland or get a ferry to Ireland.

“I think Brexit is going to be one of the greatest suicide notes in history. It’s a shambles.”