British budget airline EasyJet has chosen to apply for an air operator certificate in Austria.

It will establish a new airline, EasyJet Europe, to protect its flying rights once Britain leaves the European Union.

The new airline will be based in Vienna. 

The budget airline must have an air operator's certificate (AOC) in a European Union member to allow it to continue flying between EU member states after Brexit. 

"The accreditation process is now well advanced and easyJet hopes to receive the AOC and licence in the near future," EasyJet said in a statement.

The application "will allow EasyJet to establish a new airline, EasyJet Europe, which will be headquartered in Vienna and will enable EasyJet to continue to operate flights both across Europe and domestically within European countries after the UK has left the EU," it added.

A spokeswoman said "nothing will change" from the perspective of passengers.

She added that all the people and planes that will fly for EasyJet Europe are already employed and based in European Union countries.

The single market for aviation, created in the 1990s, means there are no commercial restrictions for airlines flying within the EU. 

UK ministers say maintaining "liberal access" to European aviation markets will be a "top priority" during Brexit negotiations.

EasyJet previously insisted it would not reveal the location of its new AOC until the application was granted, but it made the announcement after it became clear it would emerge as the approval process requires updating its safety systems and processes.

The company is paying £10m for the AOC. 

Around 30% of EasyJet passengers fly on routes between and within the 27 country European Union, not touching the UK.

Under the new structure, the airlines will be owned by EasyJet plc, which will be EU-owned and controlled, listed on the London Stock Exchange and based in the UK.

But the measures will not protect the company if an agreement cannot be reached to enable flights between the UK and the EU to continue.

An easyJet spokeswoman said: "Given the importance of aviation to all the economies of Europe as an enabler of trade, tourism and travel, we think it is important that the aviation market remains as open and competitive as possible.

"EasyJet will continue to push for the EU and UK to reach an aviation agreement which at a minimum will enable flights between the UK and EU.

"We have had positive discussions with the UK and European Governments and the EU on this, and it is a position which is supported by other major European airlines," she added.

The establishment of EasyJet Europe will create a number of new jobs in Austria but no jobs will move from the UK.

Current rules state that airlines operating within the EU must be majority owned by EU nationals. 

EasyJet says it is confident it will remain majority EU owned after Brexit as founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and his family - who hold Cypriot passports - have 33% of shares.