This week, easyJet confirmed its new European airline operation that is being develop to safeguard its operations across Europe and domestically within European countries following the UK’s departure from the European Union will be based in Vienna, Austria. The new operation will operate alongside its existing entities in Switzerland and the UK and will all be controlled by easyJet plc, an EU owned and controlled business, listed on the London Stock Exchange and based in the UK.
Although easyJet confirms that the process to secure an Air Operator Certificate from Austro Control and an operating licence from Austria’s Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (bmvit) is still to be formalised, it has chosen to confirm its plans publicly as the approval process requires the updating of its safety systems and processes which will name the Austrian regulator.
It says its criteria for selecting Austria as a base “were rooted in finding a regulator that would be the best fit” for the carrier, praising Austro Control’s “rigorous approach” to safety regulation. “The accreditation process is now well advanced and easyJet hopes to receive the AOC and licence in the near future,” it adds.
The new structure sets easyJet as a true pan-European airline group with three airlines based in Austria, Switzerland and the UK. It will not have to worry about the outcome of talks on a future UK-EU aviation agreement to maintain all its operations, but says it will continue to push for the UK and EU to reach an aviation agreement which, “at a minimum, will enable flights between the UK and EU”.
easyJet confirms it has had “constructive discussions” with the UK Civil Aviation Authority and the UK Government about the future regulatory framework for UK aviation post-Brexit and is confident it can manage any scenario.
The airline currently bases around 100 aircraft and employs around 4000 people across six EU countries which will now form the basis of the easyJet Europe operation. Around half of its 78 million annual passengers come from the European Union and around 30% of passengers are flying on routes between and within the 27 member states.
Once its operating licence and AOC application is approved easyJet will start transferring existing UK G- registered aircraft across to the Europe operation under Austrian OE- markings. The first aircraft re-registration will form part of the AOC approval process. easyJet then plans to phase the re-registering of the 110 or so planes that are required for its EU operations into it in a structured way over the next two winters to ensure that there is no disruption to the airline’s operations. “This will be completed in advance of the UK leaving the EU,” it says.
easyJet has operated in Austria for 11 years, flying more than a million passengers a year. Last year it increased the number of passengers it carried to and from Austria by 60% and now flies from Innsbruck, Salzburg, Klagenfurt and Vienna airports to 20 destinations across Europe.
Analysis by The Blue Swan Daily of OAG schedule data shows that easyJet has grown its network capacity at an average annual rate of 6.8% over the past ten years, a period it has expanded its operation to include 32 country markets. This year its network capacity is forecast to rise 7.5%, based on published schedules, its fastest year-on-year growth rate since 2010 and its fourth successive rate rise this decade.
New markets this decade for easyJet have included Iceland, Luxembourg, Montenegro and Iceland, plus a return to Finland, but flights have also been suspended to Jordan, Latvia, Norway, Romania, Russia, Tunisia. Its top five markets by capacity comprise United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.