PHOTO: Passengers loading onto an easyJet plane. (Photo via Flickr/Thomas Angermann)
Great Britain’s departure from the European Union, known as ‘Brexit’, is having repercussions for United Kingdom-based airlines.
The heads of several UK carriers have been told by EU officials to move their headquarters out of England and to cut their shares in order to continue to offer flights within Europe – that is, flights that do not begin or end in UK airports, such as Paris to Madrid or Brussels to Berlin.
Those airlines include low-cost carriers easyJet and Ryanair, according to the London newspaper The Guardian. British Airways is not included among UK-based carriers because it does not offer routes within continental Europe. easyJet and Ryanair need to have a base on EU territory – Ryanair is already based in Ireland – but the majority of their shares must be owned by European Union-based companies and citizens. That means the airlines will likely have to restructure, which could have an economic domino effect on jobs in Great Britain.
An easyJet spokesman told The Guardian: “Like other European airlines, easyJet regularly engages with the UK and the EU on a wide range of issues which include the impact of Brexit on aviation... We wouldn’t comment further on what was discussed.”
READ MORE: easyJet Reports Improved Numbers Despite Brexit
The question remains, with the European Union holding a hard line on forcing the UK carriers to relocate and cut shares, will England do the same? Will European carriers who fly into and out of London and Manchester and other cities in Great Britain be similarly squeezed?
Many are hoping for a more pragmatic solution between the two sides.
“While it appears that we are heading for a hard Brexit, there is still significant uncertainty in relation to what exactly this will entail,” a Ryanair spokesman said. “This uncertainty will continue to represent a challenge for our business for the remainder of financial year 17 and financial year 18.”
A British government spokesperson said: “It will clearly be in the interests of both sides in the (Brexit) negotiation to maintain closely integrated aviation markets. The UK aviation industry is the largest in Europe... We have engaged extensively with the aviation industry already, and will continue to work closely with it to better understand the risks and opportunities ahead to ensure it continues to be a major success story for the British economy.”