LONDON — EU chiefs have told UK airlines to relocate their operations to the EU after Brexit or face seeing routes within continental Europe axed, according to a Guardian report.
Executives at major airlines including easyJet, Ryanair, and British Airways have reportedly been warned during private meetings that, to operate intra-European routes — from Paris to Milan, for example — an airline must have a “significant base” in Europe.
To comply with regulations, the majority of capital shares in the airline must also be EU-owned, meaning that firms would also have to sell off shares to European nationals.
The operation of intra-European routes for budget airlines like easyJet is a key part of their business model, and the firm may be inclined to comply with EU demands in order to retain its market share.
British Airways does not fly intra-European flights, but its parent company IAG does, and it may need to sell off British-held shares in order to allow its other EU-owned carriers to continue complying with European regulations.
The UK could reportedly respond to the tough EU line in kind and introducing its own nationality rules for EU-based airlines.
The news comes days before Theresa May is scheduled to trigger Article 50, and raises the possibility of further job losses as a consequence of major firms relocating to continental Europe after Brexit.
On Tuesday, Goldman Sachs announced that it would begin moving hundreds of people out of London within the next two years as part of its post-Brexit contingency plans.
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