by Ben Martin, The Daily Telegraph, June 29, 2016
The easyJet boss has suggested the FTSE 100 airline could move its headquarters from Luton in the aftermath of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
Carolyn McCall told Channel 4 News that it “remains to be seen” whether the budget carrier would keep its HQ at Luton airport, where it has been based since it was founded in 1995.
“What I have said is that Luton is a massive base for us and we wouldn’t be moving lock, stock and barrel from Luton,” she added. “So at the moment we know that Luton will remain Luton in terms of large numbers of people.”
EasyJet is looking at contingency measures to deal with a Brexit. They include obtaining an air operator’s certificate in an EU country, to ensure continued access to the European Common Aviation Area.
Ms McCall was speaking as the bosses of European airlines met in Brussels to push for measures to limit the disruption caused by air traffic controller strikes. They also used the meeting to calm market fears about the impact of Brexit on aviation.
Shares in British Airways-owner International Airlines Group, easyJet and Ireland’s Ryanair plunged after the referendum result on Friday amid concern the UK leaving the EU will make it harder for airlines to fly between Britain and Europe. The pound’s tumble against the dollar and euro has also sparked worries that fewer Britons will go on holiday because it has become more expensive.
But Ms McCall of easyJet, which issued a profit warning on Monday, said that “the demand environment is strong” and “hasn't changed because of the vote”.
IAG boss Willie Walsh also said he expected sterling’s weakness to encourage more tourists to visit the UK, which could support demand for flights.
IAG warned on profits just hours after the referendum result on Friday morning, saying uncertainty ahead of the vote had stunted demand to fly. However, Mr Walsh said today that he believed the impact would only be “short-term” and added: “Does anyone seriously believe people in Europe will stop flying? I don't think so.”
After plummeting on Friday and Monday, shares in all the major airlines rallied today as stock markets around the world stabilised following the recent Brexit rout.
Easyjet had partly blamed its profit warning on a wave of industrial action recently, mainly by French air traffic controllers, that was a major factor in it cancelling more than 700 flights this month.
Ms McCall said that research by PwC had estimated strikes had cost the EU economy €9.5bn in the last six years. Along with other airline chiefs, she called on air traffic controllers to agree to a host of measures to mitigate disruption, including trying arbitration before striking and giving 21 says notice of industrial action.
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This article was written by Ben Martin from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.