EasyJet chief Johan Lundgren insisted this week he is confident that whatever the outcome on Brexit it will not halt flights between the Britain and the EU.
But Airbus chief Tom Enders highlighted “major concerns” following the latest moves by the UK government.
Lundgren said: “Whoever you speak to – be it at Westminster, in Brussels, in business – everyone agrees that connectivity between the UK and EU remains important.
“I am confident we will be flying after Brexit.”
He insisted: “We have the structure and ability to deal with [whatever happens].”
Speaking aboard the inaugural flight of easyJet’s first Airbus A321neo to the UK’s Farnborough Air Show, Lundgren said: “We have modelled every eventuality. We have prepared for every eventuality – soft Brexit, hard Brexit, no deal Brexit.
“But I find it inconceivable that flying would cease. Do you imagine the EU, that business leaders, that Spain would not want a flying agreement [with the UK]?”
Asked how easyJet would manage if required to have 50% EU ownership to operate in the EU, he said: “We have a bit less than the 50% threshold EU shareholding, but we’re confident we will be able to go over 50% [if necessary].
“The [UK government] White Paper [published last week] suggested there would not be any need to do that. But we’re setting ourselves up to be able to comply whatever the ownership and control rules.”
Lundgren dismissed the suggestion this week by UK Conservative MP and former minister Nicky Morgan that aircraft financing would be more difficult after Britain leaves the EU.
He said: “We own most of our own aircraft. We are one of the few airlines to have an investment-grade balance sheet. We can afford to buy the aircraft.”
Airbus chief executive Tom Enders also dismissed aircraft financing as an issue but highlighted “major concerns” if there is no deal on Brexit.
He said: “Our major concern is about our just-in-time production system [post Brexit].
“The other area is free movement of people. We have 80,000 movements of people in Europe a year.
“I thought the [UK Government] White Paper and the Chequers agreement [by UK Cabinet ministers] were moves in the right direction. Then we see movement [back] again. It is not just us concerned.”
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