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Wizz Air applies for UK licence ahead of Brexit amid fears flights between UK and EU could stop

Wizz Air shares wizzed higher after announcing plans to set up a UK subsidiary to ensure it can still operate flights in the nation after Brexit

Wizz Air
Wizz Air is getting 'Brexit-ready'

Budget airline Wizz Air Holdings PLC (LON:WIZZ) is applying for an air operator’s certificate (AOC) and operating licence in the UK ahead of Britain’s exit from the European Union.

The group, based in Hungary, said in a statement that a Wizz Air UK subsidiary will begin operations in the UK in March 2018 if its application with the Civil Aviation Authority is approved.

READ: Wizz Air expects profits to be at top end despite limited visibility

By setting up a UK subsidiary, it will allow Wizz Air to continuing operating flights in the nation after Brexit.

Flights between UK and EU could stop without Brexit deal 

Airlines have raised concerns that flights between the Britain and Europe could be halted if the UK is unable to negotiate a new deal with the EU before it leaves the bloc in 2019.

Last week Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed the sector’s fears.

"It is theoretically conceivable that in a no deal scenario there will be no air traffic moving between the UK and the European Union on the 29 March 2019,” he said.

“But I don't think anybody seriously believes that that is where we will get to."

In July EasyJet PLC (LON:EZJ) said it would open a new European headquarters in Vienna, Austria, to enable it to continue to operate flights within the EU after Brexit. It applied for a new AOC in Austria to set up EasyJet Europe.

Wizz Air to invest in UK 

Wizz Air said it will plug investment into the UK subsidiary and employ more than 100 people by the end of next year.

The airline opened a UK base at London Luton in June with 41 routes.

READ: Wizz Air shrugs off Brexit worries as it opens new base at London Luton airport

"We are pleased to announce that we are seeking a UK AOC and operating licence, further signalling our commitment to the important UK market,” said chief executive József Váradi.

“It is a natural, next-step in the development of our UK business and will bring additional investment and jobs to our UK base at London Luton. 

“The UK remains the single biggest travel market in Europe and we are currently the UK's eighth largest operator and this move is also part of our broader strategy to ensure that our UK operations are Brexit-ready.”

Shares in Wizz Air gained 2.0% to 3,308p in late morning trading. 

Quick facts: Wizz Air Holdings

Price: 3298 GBX

Market: AIM
Market Cap: £3.39 billion

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