With Brexit rapidly approaching, Hungarian airline Wizz Air has secured an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) and Operating License (OL) from the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). This will ensure that the airline – the largest in emerging Europe – can continue to operate flights to and from the UK even if Britain leaves the EU with no deal.
The company has stressed that the move is only an insurance policy, with József Váradi, Wizz chief executive, saying it is “a key part” of the Hungarian carrier’s Brexit contingency plans. He also said it was “the natural next-step in the development of our UK business.”
Ryanair and EasyJet have also applied for a British Licence to ensure Brexit does not damage their businesses.
In December, British airlines were warned by the EU that will lose all flying rights the European Union has negotiated with third countries as well as those negotiated by individual EU states after Britain quits the bloc.
“In order to continue benefiting from the freedoms of establishment and to provide air services within the EU internal market as of the withdrawal date, air carriers are advised to consider any measure required to ensure that the conditions for holding an EU operating license are complied with in all circumstances,” the warning read. Airlines based in the EU have the right to fly to, from and within any country in the bloc thanks to the single aviation market was created in the 1990s, but Britain now has less than two years to renegotiate access or come up with an alternative system.
Without a deal airlines would have to rely on a decades-old traffic rights accord between the UK and EU states. These are typically more restrictive and many observers have doubts as to their validity.