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Monday, 27 March 2017

EasyJet Cleared For Brexit Take-Off

Of all the recent British start-up success stories, few has impacted so many of the general public as EasyJet: the low cost airline, which launched in 1995 and now operates a fleet of around 240 aircraft. It has brought scheduled air travel to many people who had never ventured beyond holiday charter flights before. Some - me included - have used it for commuting to jobs abroad. But now it faces a problem.
EasyJet took advantage - as did Irish low cost carrier Ryanair - of the EU’s “Open Skies” policy, which allowed it to expand rapidly throughout Europe and secure access to many cities’ primary airports (the carrier flies into Amsterdam Schiphol, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Madrid Barajas, Barcelona - El Prat, and Milan Malpensa, for instance). So after last year’s referendum result, it was rumoured that it would leave the UK.

At the start of last July, the Mirror reportedEasyJet draws up plans to move headquarters out of UK in wake of Brexit vote … The airline has said however that the the vast majority of its staff would remain at the firm’s current headquarters at Luton Airport in Bedfordshire”. The Guardian has since addedUK-based airlines told to move to Europe after Brexit or lose major routes”. This was, predictably, dismissed as scaremongering.
Possible new EasyJet base? Praça do Comércio, Lisbon ...

But scaremongering it was not: Sky News has now heard thatLow-cost airline easyJet close to landing post-Brexit EU base … The low-cost carrier's board is expected to announce the location of a new EU base in April … Sky News understands that the low-cost carrier's board has pencilled in an April decision on the location of a new air operator's certificate (AOC), which will allow it to continue flying between EU member states”.

Like many of the potential post-Brexit company moves, “The decision will effectively entail the establishment of a new legal headquarters for easyJet, although the company has no plans to relocate the 1000 staff who work at its operational head office at Luton Airport”. So very little will change initially, but gradually the airline’s focus will switch to its new legal HQ. So where might that be (apart from not in the UK)?
... Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

Member states including the Netherlands are understood to have been ruled out … One insider said an announcement was ‘weeks rather than days away’ but added that the shortlist of options was now ‘very short’ … sources said on Sunday that countries including Austria, Malta and Portugal had been under serious recent consideration”. All three are Eurozone countries, and committed to remaining EU member states.

And it isn’t just the HQ that will move: “easyJet is expected to have to amend its articles of association to require that a majority of the parent company's shares are owned by EU nationals”. These moves “follow warnings from officials on the Continent that airlines such as easyJet and British Airways' parent, International Airlines Group, must have a majority of their shares owned within the EU”. Yes, BA will be moving its HQ as well.

As BA’s parent company also runs Spanish carrier Iberia, they might well move their legal HQ to Spain. It’s just confirmation that there will be no sudden or instant change due to Brexit - but change there will be. And once those companies move their HQ abroad, they will not be moving it back. Something else the Leave campaign didn’t tell voters.

7 comments:

Alan Clifford said...

Now is the time to remember all that far right bullshit about "free trade."

That and all the other Ayn Rand-type crackpottery.

Still, all those home grown "creators of wealth" and "entrepreneurs" are going make things better......Well, won't they?.....Like they did in 2008......

Sam Best said...

Nigel Farage was interviewed by Oz ABC TV tonight spouting claims that that £350M NHS bus thingy was just an unfortunate mistake.
My partner who is Asian and knows nothing of this Brexit business and had never heard of Farage said "eww..what an oily nasty looking man"

Ann Kelly said...

EasyJet might set up a hub in the EU post brexit but it will never leave Luton Airport. it practically squats there for free and has the other airlines there over a barrel, even Ryanair. It would just not be cost effective. Another thing to consider is it will become a non EU carrier, and not have to abide by the EU conditions of carriage.

Tim Fenton said...

@3

An airline with its legal HQ in the EU will be an EU carrier.

Even if this were not the case,if it were flying into the EU or between EU destinations, it would have to abide by any applicable EU laws, regulations and directives.

Ann Kelly said...

There are specific EU regs. that are only applicible to EU carriers. Re:Passengers affected by the volcano in 2010 and EU and non EU carriers. As I said, they won't leave Luton, it will stay it's legal HQ.

Tim Fenton said...

@5

What part of "It is moving its legal HQ out of the UK" do you not understand?

Anonymous said...

@Tim

Definitely: Moving, legal, HQ, out and UK.

Also, probably: It, is, its, of and the.