By Victoria Moores, ATW Daily News
Irish LCC Ryanair is continuing to plan for a "hard Brexit," by limiting the voting rights of non-EU shareholders and setting up a UK air operator's certificate, which should be granted by the end of 2018.
"We remain concerned about the prospect of a hard Brexit. If there isn't a hard Brexit--if there's an extensive or long transition period--that suits us fine, but I think we must prepare for a hard Brexit, in either March 2019, or in January 2021," Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary said, speaking on the airline's full-year results webcast.
O'Leary said he is "cautiously optimistic" that an 18-month transition period will be agreed from March 2019 through to the end of 2020, where the rules effectively remain the same, but in the meantime Ryanair will seek to restrict the voting rights of non-EU shareholders to comply with EU ownership and control restrictions.
"We will be bringing a proposal to the AGM in September. In the event of a hard Brexit, we will need to address our non-EU shareholder base," O'Leary said.
This move is aimed at safeguarding Ryanair's route rights and ability to fly as an EU airline. To preserve its presence in the UK, Ryanair is also setting up a new air operator's certificate (AOC).
"We are actively working through an AOC application with the UK CAA and we expect to have it by the end of 2018," O'Leary said. "We would need to have a UK AOC in place, only so we can operate our three UK domestic routes."