UK-based EasyJet confirms that it has started a formal process to acquire an AOC (air operator’s certificate) in a European country. The airline said that, as part of contingency planning before the UK referendum vote, informal discussions were initiated with a number of European aviation regulators about the establishment of an AOC in a European country to enable easyJet to fly across Europe as it does today. EasyJet currently has two AOCs, one in the UK and one in Switzerland.
An AOC requires the operator to have some personnel, assets and systems in place to ensure the safety of its employees and the general public. The certificate lists the aircraft types and registrations to be used, for what purpose and in what area — specific airports or geographic region.
Meanwhile, easyJet says it is lobbying the UK government and the EU to ensure the continuation of a fully liberal and deregulated aviation market within the UK and Europe. This would mean that European airlines could continue to operate as they do today — an objective supported by European airline association Airlines For Europe.
The dust is still settling on the ramifications of the UK’s unexpected referendum vote on 23rd June in favour of leaving the European Union (“Brexit”). As the International Air Transport Association (IATA) comments : “Considerable uncertainty remains regarding the precise detail of the exit and it could be two years or more before these issues are fully resolved.”
Whatever the details of the redefined relations between the UK and Europe, the air transport sector is clearly going to be in the front line of any changes to the existing arrangements, both in terms of economic impacts and regulatory impacts. A key consideration will be the extent to which the UK is willing or able to negotiate continued access to the Single Aviation Market.
According to IATA data, low-cost carriers like Ryanair and easyJet are particularly exposed to Brexit implications. Ryanair’s ASK capacity in 2016 is 58% intra-EU and 36% UK-EU, while the corresponding figures for easyJet are 24% and 49%.