Hungarian airline Wizz Air has announced it will set up a UK subsidiary in order to guarantee it will be able to keep operating flights in the UK after Brexit.
It marks the latest move in the aviation industry to prepare for potential disruption should Britain's exit from the European Union not pan out smoothly.
The London listed low-cost carrier said today it had filed an application for the grant of an air operator's certificate and operating licence with the Civil Aviation Authority. Once it gets the go-ahead the airline plans to kick off UK operations in March next year with several UK-registered aircraft.
Shares were up nearly two per cent in morning trading.
The airline opened a UK base at London Luton in June, while bolstering its number of routes being served from the airport to 41.
The base will become a Wizz Air UK operation, with the company saying it will plug investment into the subsidiary and employ more than 100 people by the end of next year.
Routes not taken over by Wizz Air UK will continue to be operated by Wizz Air Hungary.
Wizz Air chief executive, József Váradi said:
We are pleased to announce that we are seeking a UK AOC and operating licence, further signalling our commitment to the important UK market. It is a natural, next-step in the development of our UK business and will bring additional investment and jobs to our UK base at London Luton.
The UK remains the single biggest travel market in Europe and we are currently the UK’s eighth largest operator and this move is also part of our broader strategy to ensure that our UK operations are Brexit-ready. We look forward to working with the CAA to take this application forward.
It comes after EasyJet set up an EU-based airline in July in order to continue intra-European flights, whatever happens with Brexit negotiations. The airline applied for a new air operator certificate in Austria to set up EasyJet Europe which is headquartered in Vienna.
Last week, the chancellor Philip Hammond said it was possible that Britain leaving the EU with no deal could result in no traffic between Britain and Europe, but nobody thought that would happen.
He said: "It is theoretically conceivable that in a no deal scenario there will be no air traffic moving between the UK and the European Union on the 29 March 2019. But I don't think anybody seriously believes that that is where we will get to."
Hammond cited "mutual self-interest" as a reason why there would be a "very strong compulsion on both sides" to reach an agreement on an air traffic services arrangement.