UK sees aviation giants relocating to “Open Skies”

BERND SETTNIK

A file photo dated 23 October 2015 showing an Airbus A319 of Easyjet crossing the redeveloped northern runway as it taxies to the start on the southern runway of the airfield at Schoenfeld airport in Berlin, Germany. Easyjet reported their half-year results on 10 May 2016, saying total revenue increased to 1,771 million pound, a change of +0.3 per cent. Number of passengers grew to 31 million.

EasyJet setting up shop in Vienna, Ryanair relocates planes


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EasyJet said on Friday they will establish a subsidiary in Vienna to ensure flying rights after the UK leaves the EU. EasyJet’s current base of operations is Luton, outside London.

That is a consequence of Brexit. As the UK leaves the Single Market, it is also giving up on the 1997 “Open Skies” agreement, which allows any EU airline to connect any two destinations anywhere in Europe. This has turned EasyJet and Ryanair into consolidated aviation behemoths, with airlines taking up market share from traditional full-service national carriers.

EasyJet Europe wants to retain its licence and air operator’s certificate (AOC) in an EU member state, which may not be possible when the UK leaves the bloc in March 2019. Vienna emerges as a major beneficiary of Brexit, attracting investment due to location, airport infrastructure, and competitive tax and labour costs. The Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern hailed the decision as a victory for Austria won “in competition with 27 other EU countries.”

Easyject connects 30 countries, mostly in the EU. On Friday, the company announced that it plans to re-register 110 planes in Austria, at an estimated cost of €12 million. The majority shareholder and founder of EasyJet is Stelios HajiIoannou, a Cypriot citizen.

Last Thursday, Ryanair announced that the Irish carrier will also be moving planes from UK airports to the EU. Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, told the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee that the deadline for airlines is September-October 2018. If there is no agreement between the EU and Brussels by then, Airlines will then start canceling flights between the UK and the EU.

The first flights canceled will be in the spring of 2019, disrupting the summer 2019 tourist season, O’Leary specified.

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