Budget airline EasyJet intends to form a new company in Europe to avoid the fall-out from Brexit, a move that could see the carrier move its legal headquarters abroad.
The FTSE 100 airline had started to acquire a so-called air operator certificate (AOC) in a European country as a contingency measure in case the UK lost its right to fly freely across Europe after leaving the EU. Gaining a certificate might result in easyJet legally registering its HQ in an EU country.
It added though, that its 1,000-plus staff currently at its Luton Airport head office would not be affected the change.
Once EasyJet had the operator certificate, it would be required to set up an operating company in an EU country, which would ensure the airline had unfettered access to the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA). The area was central to its business as it allowed the short-haul carrier to fly to destinations across the continent.
The outcome of the talks with European aviation regulators would determine whether the holding company would either be a subsidiary of EasyJet or, more likely, became its legal headquarters.
Fears had been expressed that Brexit would obstruct UK airlines' access to the ECAA and it was understood a number of carriers were looking at purchasing AOCs.
Chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall, a member of the prime minister's business advisory group who backed the Remain campaign, is said to have privately suggested that moving was almost inevitable.
Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, a member of the Treasury Select Committee who campaigned to leave the EU, said: 'This is more a political statement by easyJet than anything else, www.dailymail.co.uk reported.
"They backed Remain in the campaign. Their customers voted to leave and now they are going against their customers. I think it is unwise. "The sensible thing to do is see what happens. We haven't even begun negotiations. Making multi-million-pound decisions at this stage is not in the interest of shareholders."