UK-based airlines have reportedly been told that they must move to Europe after Brexit or face losing major routes.
Executives at carriers including Ryanair, British Airways and easyJet have been warned in private meetings that they must have a major base on EU territory and a majority of capital shares EU-owned if they wish to continue flying routes within continental Europe, according to the Guardian.
The warning will be of particular concern to companies like easyJet, whose primary business model is based on routes across the EU.
With Article 50 just days away from being triggered, signalling the start of Britain’s exit from the European Union, there are now fears that airlines will be forced to cut jobs in the UK if they move their headquarters abroad.
The Guardian reports that some airlines have already started to look for alternative bases, while others had hoped that current aviation industry rules would be flexible after Brexit.
Thomas van der Wijngaart, an aviation expert at the legal firm Clyde & Co, warned of significant economic consequences for the UK as a result of the changes.
He told the paper: “It might be that carriers choose to have domestic flights [on the continent] operated by their new European operating licence, which would probably mean a reduction in staff in the UK.”
Britain is currently a member of an aviation agreement based on 35 shared pieces of EU legislation and the European court of justice (ECJ).
However, Brexit Secretary David David told a select committee last week that the “open skies” agreement “would not apply” to the UK after our divorce from the EU.
The aviation industry is now hoping that the Government can strike an early deal during Article 50 negotiations to limit any damage.
An easyJet spokesman said they would not comment on the details of a private meeting while a spokesman for Ryanair – owned by staunch Remainer Michael O’Leary – said: “While it appears that we are heading for a hard Brexit, there is still significant uncertainty in relation to what exactly this will entail.
“This uncertainty will continue to represent a challenge for our business for the remainder of financial year 17 and financial year 18.”
Top pic: Rex