UK LCC easyJet has detailed the steps it has taken to Brexit-proof its operations and says it has a plan in place to ensure it meets European Union (EU) ownership and control regulations, regardless of whether or not airlines are given an adjustment period after the UK departs the bloc.

In a Feb. 7 AGM statement, easyJet chairman John Barton said the carrier is 49% EU-owned—just shy of the 50% plus one share required under EU law—but there are a number of steps it can take to quickly close the gap in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

“If the EU does not give airlines any adjustment period to comply with the applicable EU ownership and control regulations, the board stands ready to activate existing provisions of our Articles of Association to ensure that the company will comply following Brexit,” Barton said.

According to media reports, revisions to draft EU Brexit legislation state that airlines will have two weeks from the law’s adoption to submit plans outlining how they will comply with ownership and control regulations. However, they would then be given until Oct. 27, 2019—seven months after the UK is scheduled to leave the EU—to enact those plans and become compliant.

A spokesperson for the European Commission’s transport division declined to comment on the report.

​EasyJet’s provisions could include suspending shareholders’ voting rights or even forcing non-EU shareholders to sell their easyJet shares to EU nationals.

“Any suspension of voting rights should only apply in relation to a small percentage of shares and would be applied on a last in first out basis, meaning it would affect shares most recently acquired by UK and non-EU nationals first,” Barton said.

EasyJet has also established an Austrian unit to which it has re-registered 133 aircraft and has created a spare parts hub in the EU “to limit exposure to any logistical supply chain risks between the EU and the UK.”

Irish LCC Ryanair has also put in place a set of provisions to ensure its operations are unaffected by Brexit. In its recent 3Q earnings statement, the Irish carrier said: “We have now obtained a UK AOC [air operator’s certificate] to protect our three domestic UK routes, and we will place restrictions on the voting rights and share sales of non-EU shareholders for a period of time [in the event of a hard Brexit] to ensure that Ryanair remains at all times an EU-owned and EU-controlled airline, even if the UK exits the EU without a deal.”

There are still questions about International Airlines Group’s (IAG) shareholder structure and whether it will comply. But IAG—the parent company of Iberia, Aer Lingus, British Airways and Vueling—has consistently expressed confidence that it will comply with EU and UK ownership and control rules post-Brexit.

Kerry Reals, kerry@realsreporting.com