EasyJet applies for European AOC – may leave UK as HQ

Photo: Brian Crowley

EasyJet has applied for a European Union AOC to give it the ability to operate fully in Europe post-Brexit. Most airlines are very doubtful that Brexit negotiations will even cover airlines. It hadn’t even crossed the minds of political operators responsible for the negotiations until recently.  

EasyJet’s biggest business is in Europe, the U.K. is important but Europe is bigger and where the growth lies. By applying for the AOC easyJet is securing its future. If Brexit talks fail to deliver, it will transfer is current ownership structure (currently 48% European owned) to a 51% European owned business to qualify. This will inevitably mean moving its HQ to Europe in the longer term. Brexit will have cost the UK its largest airline if this happens. 

Behind the scenes one has to wonder what will happen with BA. IAG is technically, but not practically, Spanish based so inside the EU. Are we looking at a few structural changes that means Bristish Airways too, effectively becomes foreign owned?