EasyJet in talks to leave UK

Meeting with unnamed EU member states to relocate its headquarters...

EasyJet in talks to leave UK

Picture by: Gareth Fuller / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Mere days after its chief executive Carolyn McCall suggested it would consider moving its HQ from Luton Airport – its home since 1985 – to another location in the European Union, easyJet has now opened talks with EU member states' aviation regulators.

Sources close to the low-cost airline carrier claim it has already held preliminary discussions with unidentified countries about issuing easyJet with an air operator's certificate (AOC) that would enable it to base its HQ there.

Some of those member states are apparently keen on airlines seeking relocation to move the bulk of their operational HQs, which in easyJet's case Ms McCall and her executives would be unwilling to do.

One insider said moving the HQ could entail relocating just a handful of staff, depending on the regime operated by the individual country's aviation regulator.

It would involve up-ending easyJet's current corporate structure by making its existing UK AOC entity a subsidiary of its newly incorporated legal headquarters.

British Airways' parent, International Airlines Group, already operates using a similar structure, while Ryanair could adopt such a model in future.

A source said that easyJet had received advice that "the most workable structure would be to be an EU-registered entity with a UK subsidiary."

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, the company said:

"EasyJet has been preparing for this eventuality in the lead up to the referendum vote and has been working on a number of options that will allow it to continue flying in all of its markets."

The airline is expected to review all 27 of the remaining member states before holding further discussions with a number of them about the possible terms of an AOC.

A decision is likely later this year.

Additional reporting: Sky News