Vienna: EasyJet is to open a new European headquarters in Austria to enable it to continue to operate flights within the EU after Brexit.
The airline said it intended to establish a new airline, easyJet Europe, which would be headquartered in Vienna.
The carrier has been searching for a new operating licence from an EU country while uncertainty hangs over its business. Without the Austrian licence, easyJet would be unable to continue flights between other EU countries.
The restructuring of the business, which will involve the re-registering of 110 aircraft under Austrian jurisdiction, is expected to cost at least £10m – although the overall costs of Brexit to the airline have run much higher, with currency devaluation alone hitting profits by £88m in 2016 and £82m in the first half of this year.
EasyJet still faces legal uncertainty over whether it will be able to fly between the UK and Europe, and on what terms, after Brexit.
Ryanair repeated its warnings to the European parliament this week that there was a real prospect of no flights operating between the EU and UK for a period in 2019.
EasyJet said it was continuing to push for negotiators “to reach an aviation agreement which at a minimum will enable flights between the UK and EU”.
The company said the Vienna move would make it a pan-European aviation group – with three airlines based in Austria, Switzerland and the UK – that would be controlled by easyJet plc, which would remain listed on the London Stock Exchange.
EasyJet, which employs 4,000 staff in continental Europe, said the move would not affect UK jobs – its 6,000 employees in Britain would continue to be based in Luton and its 11 other bases across the country.