Easyjet closes in on UK licence as shareholders green light Brexit shake-up that could force UK investors to sell shares

Rebecca Smith
Easyjet's Brexit plans have taken off
Easyjet's Brexit plans have taken off (Source: Getty)

Easyjet's plans to change its shareholder set-up to ensure it meets EU ownership rules for airlines post-Brexit have been backed by investors at the airline's annual general meeting today.

The airline also said it expects the Civil Aviation Authority to grant it a UK air operator's certificate in the coming weeks to operate its UK-based aircraft. The government has confirmed the airline - Easyjet UK - will be treated as a British airline when Britain leaves the bloc and its parent firm is EU-owned.

The carrier revealed in November that it intended to amend its articles of association, which gave directors the power to limit the ownership of the firm's shares by non-UK nationals. Now, EasyJet will change this so it applies to non-EU shareholders, excluding UK holders once the UK leaves the European Union.

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So it has the power to force UK shareholders to divest their shares if need be, as the resolution was passed at the AGM in Luton today.

John Barton, Easyjet's chairman, said today that Brexit was "one of the biggest issues facing the European airline industry".

He said the change will mean the board can ensure the airline is EU owned and controlled at all times after the UK leaves the EU, "allowing Easyjet to continue to fly between and within EU countries post-Brexit".

Barton said:

We have no immediate intention of using these powers but they are an important element in ensuring that Easyjet has the ability to maintain EU ownership and control at all times should we need to do so.

He said Easyjet had begun "from a position of strength", and a "more active investor relations programme" underway across Europe.

Airlines have been prepping for Brexit, with the likes of Wizz Air and Ryanair applying for UK licences.

Last year, Easyjet set up a new airline to be headquartered in Vienna to protect its European business when Britain leaves the EU.

Today, Barton said Easyjet was working with the UK government, EU institutions and EU member states to ensure that flying rights between the UK and the EU are maintained.

"Given that consumers, airlines and politicians across the UK and Europe all want flights between the UK and EU to continue after Brexit we are confident there will be an agreement," he said.

Read more: EasyJet plans Brexit shake-up which could force UK investors to sell shares

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