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EasyJet Opens Talks Over Post-Brexit HQ Move

Businesses add fuel to the speculation that large corporations will relocate en-masse after the UK voted to leave the EU

This time it is EasyJet under the microscope, as private meetings, uncovered by Sky News, found that the airline was in talks with EU members’ aviation regulators, with a view to relocating its headquarters outside of the UK.

Ongoing corporate impact

The Brexit decision has seen several large companies hinting at relocation, as the impact of the referendum sends shockwaves across corporate Europe. EasyJet’s chief executive Carolyn McCall has indicated in a series of private meetings that relocation is inevitable, though the timescale on this is unclear, with details still to be discussed. A move would mean upending EasyJet’s current corporate structure, with UK operations being downgraded to a subsidiary of the main premises, wherever they are in Europe.

Around 1,000 people work for EasyJet at its Luton base, in a range of departments including finance, marketing and IT. The move is not expected to impact the operations staff that work for the company at the Bedfordshire airport. The news is sure to add further credence to the fact that Brexit is going to affect the corporate structures of big companies in Britain. Telecoms company Vodafone has already issued a statement saying that there are no definite plans at this stage with regards to its HQ location.

A change in aviation rules?

Current EU rules mean a single aviation agreement exists across the bloc, but with an EU exit looming, the UK’s membership of this agreement is by no means certain. McCall already admitted to Channel 4 that she did not know if EasyJet would be relocating as a result of the referendum. The company added in a statement to the London Stock Exchange that it had been preparing for a move in the run up to the referendum, and that now is the time to focus on options that will allow the company to remain part of the single EU aviation market.

What happens now?

While a move is unlikely in the short term, EasyJet will most likely be entering discussions with the EU’s remaining 27 member states to negotiate the company’s future as part of the EU aviation bloc. Some insiders are adamant that relocation is a certainty, but a decision isn’t expected to be finalised until later in 2016.

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