Airlines headquartered in the UK will have to set up shop in the EU and sell off shares to European nationals if they wish to continue running major routes across Europe following Brexit, EU officials said.
Among the airlines being warned are easyJet and Ryanair, with EU officials stressing that they “must have a significant base on EU territory and… a majority of their capital shares must be EU-owned” if they are to operate at EU airports, reports the Guardian.
Meanwhile, this raises fears for UK jobs and economic consequences as carriers may opt to restructure. According to the Guardian, a number of airlines have already started examining alternative headquarters, as well as ways to ensure their shares are majority-EU owned.
EU officials are underlining that they will show no flexibility on the rules in the current aviation agreement. According to the same report, aviation experts say the UK may respond by developing ownership rules of its own, which could prevent carriers such as the Ireland-based Ryanair from flying UK domestic routes.
“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,’’ said a Ryanair spokesman.
Airline senior executives have been in constant talks with top-ranking EU officials in hopes of a trade deal.
Meanwhile, easyJet, which said it will continue to be based in the UK, is establishing an EU operating company expected to be announced in the coming weeks so as to obtain an EU air operating certificate, the Guardian reports.