UK low-cost carrier (LCC) easyJet is staying silent on its application for a European Union (EU) air operator’s certificate (AOC) and discussions over connecting flights until they are finalized.

“We won’t make a big deal of things until we sign a firm agreement. Our view is that this approach is better than saying something and then nothing happening for a couple of years. We’d rather say something and then do it,” easyJet CEO Carolyn McCall said, speaking at a recent media event at London’s Luton Airport and making a veiled reference to Irish LCC Ryanair. She said this applied to any feeder agreements and the EU AOC.

EasyJet’s network depends heavily on EU route rights. An EU AOC would safeguard the LCC’s network, should the UK and EU fail to agree on a new air transport accord before the UK exits the EU (Brexit).

“What will secure our strategic future is a European AOC. We are well on track towards doing that. It depends on ownership and control. If [the outcome of the Brexit talks] is like what we have today, nothing changes. If it is not like today, we will have to be an EU airline and will have to change some elements of our ownership. Currently easyJet is 48% EU-owned, so there is not a big gap to fill,” McCall said.

EasyJet is still on track to secure the AOC this summer, but McCall said: “We have taken the view that we will not announce it until we have the license. We have to expect to have something sorted [in place] by next year.”

ATW sources previously indicated the new AOC could be sourced from either Portugal or Austria, although Ireland and Cyprus are also understood to be in contention.

McCall added that a Brexit transition agreement for aviation could become “very relevant” to easyJet. “This is not about the next 18 months; it’s about the next five to 10 years.”

However, the easyJet CEO was reluctant to speculate on the impact of Brexit and declined to discuss the topic during an ATW video interview.

“There is a lot of talk in the newspapers about hard and soft Brexit, but I don’t think anyone knows what that means. There is an awful lot to do—just in aviation—never mind the other industries. It is extremely complex. Before and after the [Brexit] vote, everyone in aviation wants to do the same thing, to keep deregulation and liberalization as much as we can keep it, because it works well for consumers and you can’t stop them from traveling.

“We will proceed with how we are operating today. We need to focus on selling seats and stabilizing, not freaking people out. Who does that help? This is in the hands of the politicians on both sides and it is up to them to deliver.”

Victoria Moores victora.moores@penton.com