EasyJet launches plans for post-Brexit base in Aus­tria

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

LON­DON: Bri­tish low-cost air­line EasyJet charted a course on Fri­day to keep flying un­hin­dered across the Euro­pean Union af­ter Brexit. The car­rier, which is based in Lu­ton, north of the Bri­tish cap­i­tal, said in a state­ment that it will cre­ate a new di­vi­sion, EasyJet Europe, which will be based in the Aus­trian cap­i­tal, Vi­enna. EasyJet, which will re­tain its Lu­ton head­quar­ters, added that it has ap­plied for a new air op­er­a­tor’s cer­tifi­cate (AOC) in Aus­tria to con­tinue flying across Europe re­gard­less of the fi­nal Brexit deal be­tween Brus­sels and Lon­don.

The ac­cred­i­ta­tion process is “now well ad­vanced” and it should be con­cluded “in the near fu­ture”, the com­pany said. The ap­pli­ca­tion “will al­low EasyJet to es­tab­lish a new air­line, EasyJet Europe, which will be head­quar­tered in Vi­enna and will en­able EasyJet to con­tinue to op­er­ate flights both across Europe and do­mes­ti­cally within Euro­pean coun­tries af­ter the UK has left the EU”, the no-frills car­rier added. EasyJet Europe will be­come the group’s third air­line di­vi­sion af­ter EasyJet in Lu­ton and EasyJet Switzer­land in Geneva.

Vi­enna was picked be­cause EasyJet had con­cluded that its air­line reg­u­la­tor was “the best fit” for the firm. The switch will cre­ate jobs in Aus­tria, while no po­si­tions would be lost in Bri­tain. “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,” the state­ment added. Aus­trian Chan­cel­lor Chris­tian Kern hailed the an­nounce­ment as “tremen­dous news for Aus­tria.”

In­vestors, how­ever, shrugged off the news, with the share price edg­ing around 0.1 per­cent higher to 1,410 pence com­pared with the clos­ing level on Thurs­day. Soon af­ter Bri­tain voted in a ref­er­en­dum a year ago in favour of ex­it­ing the EU, EasyJet ap­plied for a Euro­pean Union li­cense to keep flying through­out the bloc. Bri­tain’s air­line in­dus­try has soared over the last two decades un­der the Sin­gle Euro­pean Sky sys­tem, which lifted trade re­stric­tions on EU air­lines.

Un­less Bri­tish ne­go­tia­tors man­age to se­cure pref­er­en­tial con­di­tions, Bri­tish air­lines could lose this sta­tus once the coun­try leaves the EU. This will mean they no longer en­joy rights in­clud­ing be­ing able to freely set air­fares, and to launch any route in Europe with­out get­ting prior au­tho­riza­tion.

Pas­sen­gers leav­ing or ar­riv­ing in the United King­dom will face new taxes and Bri­tish air­lines face ob­sta­cles and de­lays in de­vel­op­ing new routes.

Un­der plans un­veiled on Fri­day, EasyJet Europe will op­er­ate 100 planes and 4,000 crew flying across the 27 re­main­ing Euro­pean Union na­tions fol­low­ing Brexit. The main EasyJet air­line in Lu­ton will op­er­ate 140 planes and 6,000 staff for UK flights, while EasyJet Switzer­land will have 25 planes and 950 staff in Geneva.—AFP

FRANCE: This file photo shows an Air­bus A321 of English low-cost pas­sen­ger car­rier EasyJet at Toulouse-Blagnac air­port.—AFP

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