EasyJet sets up shop in EU to avoid losing European routes ahead of Brexit

EasyJet sets up shop in EU to avoid losing European routes ahead of Brexit
British budget airline easyJet announced on Friday it is seeking a new air operator's certificate in Austria. The company wants to protect its European routes when the UK exits the EU.

The new company must have a license and an air operator's certificate (AOC) in an EU member state to continue flying within the bloc.

"The accreditation process is now well advanced, and easyJet hopes to receive the AOC and license in the near future," easyJet said in a statement.

EasyJet will re-register 110 planes to fly for the new company. That will cost around £10 million ($13 million).

The airline stressed "no jobs will move from the UK to Austria" and that "nothing will change" from the perspective of passengers.

Austria has praised the decision.

"The quality of the country won in competition with 27 other European countries, not tax dumping. The better one won, not the cheaper one," Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said in a statement.

Since 1994, any EU airline has been free to fly between any two points in Europe. This rule has helped companies such as easyJet and Ryanair to grow to their present size.

Under present rules, airlines operating within the bloc must be majority owned by EU nationals.

EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou and his family hold Cypriot passports and own 33 percent of shares in the company.

UK negotiators with Brussels say keeping "liberal access" to European aviation markets will be a "top priority" during Brexit talks.