July 29, 2021

Ryanair and EasyJet limit the presence in the capital of their British shareholders | Economy

Ryanair and EasyJet limit the presence in the capital of their British shareholders | Economy

Not only IAG and Iberia have problems with Brexit. Its main rivals Ryanair and EasyJet are also implementing contingency plans to safeguard their flight permits in continental Europe before the different scenarios of the departure from the United Kingdom.

The most worried and the one that has been most aggressive both with the British authorities and the community has been Ryanair. Its CEO, Michael O'Leary, did not hesitate to point out, on the occasion of the presentation of the last quarterly results last October, that the risk of thousands of flights being suspended for Brexit throughout Europe is being "underestimated". "

"While we expect a 21-month transition agreement to be agreed as of March 2019, recent events in the UK have added uncertainty, and we believe that the risk of a difficult Brexit, which could lead to flights it is being underestimated, "said the manager.

While this agreement arrives or not, the Irish airline tries to shield itself to continue maintaining its dominance in the European and Spanish skies, since it is the first company in Spain, concentrating 18% of the total traffic of the airports of the Aena network.

The low cost airline has already informed its shareholders that they are not members of the EU that they will lose their voting rights, even if they are from the United Kingdom, with the aim of guaranteeing the community requirement that more than 50% of the capital must be in the hands of an EU shareholder.

"In the case of a hard Brexit, the Board will restrict the voting rights of all non-EU shareholders and limit them to selling their shares only to EU citizens to ensure that Ryanair remains majority owned and controlled by the EU. the shareholders of the EU, to avoid that our EU airline license is at risk, "the airline said in a statement.

The board of the airline reserves the right in addition to force the sale of shares of those investors who are not community as it appears in the bylaws of the company, although they have already reassured them assuring that they will not resort to this extreme measure.

The company even valued introducing a "Brexit clause" to warn customers that their tickets as of March 29 may not be valid in case there is no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom.

EasyJet, based in Luton, also has an emergency plan in case the Brexit goes wrong. The airline, which has mostly British capital, has made several tours (road show) by Germany and France to convince investors of these two countries to enter the shareholding, participated in more than 50% by British investors.

Its bylaws also allow it to restrict the voting rights of British investors as well as to force them to beat their participation, to avoid compromising operations.

The British airline requested an operator certificate in Austria to be able to continue flying in the European Union unhindered after the Brexit, and created a new company -EasyJet Europe- based in Vienna, to keep flying at the same time across Europe and in domestic flights in European countries.

Austrian subsidiary

The Austrian subsidiary now concentrates a fleet of 110 aircraft and about 1,400 pilots, who have been granted licenses issued by Austria, since depending on the result of Brexit, pilot licenses issued in the United Kingdom may not be valid within of the EU.

Norwegian is also "continuously monitoring the situation and evaluating the steps to mitigate any risk" by the Brexit. "Structurally, Norwegian is well positioned to protect its flight rights in both Europe and the United Kingdom, even in the unlikely event of a Brexit without an agreement," the airline said.

For its part, the aeronautical giant such as Airbus, which generates around 2,000 million euros a year just in taxes in the United Kingdom, would also be preparing to move production from its plants in the country to others in continental Europe, China or United States, according to the company last June.

The rating agency Moody's warned that the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union without an agreement would be an event "significantly negative for European airlines," according to a report published last September.

Moody's identifies several risks for EU airlines from a result without an agreement. One is that traffic rights between the United Kingdom and the European Aviation Area are lost. In addition, flight rights between the United Kingdom and other third countries that have aviation agreements with the EU, including the USA, would also be at risk.

The additional risk arises from the need to comply with the ownership and control conditions to conserve operating licenses. In addition, a question mark hangs over the continuity of the United Kingdom as a member of the European Aviation Safety Agency.

The Moody's report identifies British Airways, EasyJet, Ryanair, Thomas Cook, TUI, Virgin Atlantic and Norwegian as some of the "most exposed" companies in the case of a Brexit without an agreement.


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