EasyJet says it needs aviation deal after Brexit

An EasyJet passenger aircraft makes its final approach for landing in Colomiers near Toulouse, Southwestern France, November 24, 2016. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's easyJet EZJ.L said it wanted a straightforward bilateral aviation agreement between the UK and the European Union as a minimum in a Brexit deal.

The low-cost airline also said it was close to announcing its licence application for a EU Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) that will ensure it can maintain its flying rights within the EU once Britain leaves.

Britain formally triggered the process of leaving the EU on Wednesday, and many airlines fear disruption if a aviation deal is not sorted quickly.

“When the UK leaves the EU, easyJet’s minimum requirement will be a straightforward bilateral aviation agreement between the UK and the EU which will allow UK airlines to fly to Europe and European airlines to fly to the UK,” easyJet said in a statement.

Irish airline Ryanair RYA.I said flights between Britain and the EU risked being suspended in 2019 if Britain does not prioritise a new aviation deal in Brexit negotiations.

EasyJet said it would have three AOCs - UK, Swiss and EU - in the future, which will protect all its current network of flights.

However headquarters would remain in Luton, just north of London, the statement said, and it would remain listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Alistair Smout, Editing by Paul Sandle