EasyJet is making a new airline under a different name so it can remain flying in the EU after Brexit has been finalised.
It has registered for a new air operator license in Austria at the cost of £10m.
The budget airline said the request process was “well advanced” and it expects to get the certification very soon.
It will enable the low-cost carrier to secure easyJetEurope, which will have its main office in Vienna, the capital of Austria.
EU airlines have been open to fly between any two locations in Europe since the 1990s.
Although it is unsure whether the Brexit negotiations will rebuke free flying, this is a plan for a worst case scenario should Britain decline to negotiate the same flying freedoms it presently enjoys as a part of the EU.
The firm said the plan would allow the airline to serve and conduct flights both beyond Europe and domestically inside Europe once Britain leaves the EU “regardless of the outcome of talks on a future UK-EU aviation agreement”.
The founding of the new hub will generate new employment in Austria, but the airline stated “no jobs will move from the UK to Austria” and that “nothing will change” from the viewpoint of passengers.
“All of easyJet’s UK employees will continue to be based in Luton and our 11 UK bases and employed as they are today,” the company said.
“Given the importance of aviation to all the economies of Europe as an enabler of trade, tourism and travel, we think it is important that the aviation market remains as open and competitive as possible.
“While the new structure will protect all of easyJet’s current flying rights within Europe, easyJet 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,” it added.
UK ministers have said keeping “liberal access” to European flying markets will be a “top priority” throughout the Brexit discussions which were under a plan in June.
Airlines working within the EU must be majority owned by EU citizens, an existing rule says.
However, easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and his family all hold Cypriot passports. They currently own one-third or 33% of shares in the company.
The company presently has airlines that are UK and Switzerland-based.
All three airlines will be controlled by easyJet plc, which will be EU-owned and managed, listed on the London Stock Exchange and UK-based.
A Government spokesperson announced ministers remained “committed to securing liberal access to European aviation markets which has brought huge benefits to consumers across the EU”.
Stock price: EZJ (LON) 1,411.00 GBX +2.00 (+0.14%)
14 Jul, 4:36 PM GMT+1