EasyJet is not prepared to wait for the UK to exit the European Union before applying for an operating licence in another member of the bloc.
Chief executive Carolyn McCall said the airline could not afford to sit back until 2019 to get an air operator’s certificate in another EU state.
Under present rules, carriers have unlimited flying rights within EU countries, but it is not yet clear whether the UK will be allowed to keep this arrangement when it leaves the bloc.
McCall told the French newspaper Les Echos: “We cannot wait for 2019, when quitting the EU will take effect.
“That is why we have been working for over a year on an alternative.
“An announcement regarding the acquisition of an operator’s certificate in another EU country is planned for 2017.”
The carrier would be unable to run domestic routes in countries like France and operate between member states if the UK were to lose full access to the EU aviation market.
Analysts believe that services in France make up a third of the carrier’s business, The Times reported.
EasyJet warned last month that the weak pound would cost it £90 million this year.
However, HSBC yesterday upgraded the airline’s shares from “reduce” to “buy”, arguing that “despite current short-term commercial and operational challenges, we continue to see it as one of the two market leaders.”
Shares in easyJet rose 27½p to 968p.