Published on Wednesday, March 22, 2017

UK airlines told to move to EU or be forced to axe services

EU officials have warned UK-based airlines that they will have to axe their routes within continental Europe unless they relocate their headquarters to the EU and sell shares to EU nationals post Brexit.

Executives at major carriers have been told during private meetings with officials that to continue to operate on routes within the continent they must have a significant base on EU territory and that a majority of their shares must be EU-owned, according to the Guardian.

Some airlines, including easyJet, have already started to look at ways to obtain an EU operating certificate, including setting up separate operating companies within continental Europe.

However, it is believed that the EU's Brexit taskforce, which met with representatives from British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair and TUI last week, made it clear that the majority of the shares in the airlines must also be EU-owned if they are to continue to operate routes within the Continent, such as Paris - Milan.

Meanwhile, Olivier Jankovec, European leader of international airports council ACI, has expressed concerns about ongoing uncertainty over the rules that will govern aviation between the UK and the EU after PM Theresa May triggers Article 50 next week.

"This needs to be quickly resolved to provide clarity for passengers, airlines and airports so as to enable continued investment in growing our collective connectivity," he said.

"The sequencing of the Brexit negotiations means talks will initially focus on agreeing exit terms for the UK, before they eventually come to define the new relationship between the UK and the EU27 as of 2019.

"This implies that the aviation industry will be left in the dark for many more months to come about what will happen. Unless quickly resolved, this uncertainty will end up constraining route network development for airports, ultimately affecting air connectivity for their communities. This is due to the fact that airline route planning requires both long lead times and legal certainty."

He warned that, due to the strict two-year deadline for Brexit negotiations, it was possible the UK would exit the EU without the terms of a new relationship being clearly defined.

"For aviation, this could well result in market access falling back on more restrictive bilateral provisions between the UK and individual EU27 States - with potentially disruptive effects on air connectivity and the economy.

"In particular, consumers could find themselves having purchased air tickets that airlines might not be able to honour in the absence of an appropriate legal basis for them to fly.

"As responsible businesses, at this stage we simply cannot rule out a cliff-edged scenario for Brexit and aviation. The potential impact of this on air connectivity, consumers and the wider economy needs to be addressed by Brexit negotiators - on both sides.

"This means that adequate contingencies need to be established promptly in case the UK would exit the EU without any agreement on its future relationship with the bloc".

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  • Aren't the commentators missing the point?

    No commentator appears to have picked up on the point about majority EU ownership. Ryanair, as an EU-owned (& headquartered) company is bomb-proof, but it might not be quite as easy for EasyJet. If the result of the negotiations is logical, Brexit means Brexit, and the UK-owned airlines count as much as any other non-EU airline. (Mind you, Alitalia & Darwin show that non-EU airlines, such as Etihad, seem to be able to get round some of this EU protectionism.)

    By Peter Lewis, Wednesday, April 5, 2017

  • Easyjet et al

    will not have to move their HQ, just open a European division, much like Air Asia does in different countries in Asia. No big deal.

    By Michael Anderson, Tuesday, March 28, 2017

  • Missing the point

    I don't think anything in this article is saying that EU countries will stop Brits going there (or vv), nor flights between Britain and there. What it IS saying is that if EasyJet operate flights between (say) France and Germany using EU rules, they will either have to discontinue these flights, or move their HQ to EU land. Don't forget that EU countries would be delighted if their own airlines could take up the slack of the intra EU flights from EasyJet and others. Calm down and read the story!

    By Jon Rankin, Wednesday, March 22, 2017

  • Cutting your own throat

    Many European countries depend on Tourism, how many UK airlines carry tourists to European countries ? I feel sure none of them can afford to cancel routes and flights that provide huge revenues to the country. What a stupid threat.

    By William Clarke, Wednesday, March 22, 2017

  • Project Fear continues

    So, EU wants to stop 20m UK citizens going to Europe on Holiday. So let's stop EU cars coming in. Then a bit more tit and a bit more tat. Won't happen. Commonsense will prevail.

    By David Mitchell, Wednesday, March 22, 2017

  • It's a 2 way street.

    We can shut our doors too, this is the usual propaganda from a failing state, EU days are numbered and they are petrified at what may happen when we leave, taking our cash with us.

    By William Staines, Wednesday, March 22, 2017

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