The boss of one of Europe's biggest budget airlines says Brexit would not end cheap fares

Norwegian Air chief executive, Bjorn Kjos, says a Brexit would have no impact on UK expansion plans. Credit: ITV News

Britain's membership of the European Union has transformed the way we travel, more specifically the way we fly.

The creation of a single market forced open the skies above the EU. Airlines became free to operate where they chose rather than where governments permitted them to.

The freedom of movement of aircraft made budget airlines possible. Airfares fell, the number of destinations spiralled. Today, for better and for worse, there are record numbers of us flying.

Easyjet is a child of the European Union and one of a number of travel companies that has warned that the benefits of EU membership may unwind if Britain votes to leave - that Brexit could trigger an end to cheap flights and a return to a Dark Age of travel.

But note: "may" and "could". Exasperatingly, the debate about the impact of Brexit is being fought in the conditional tense, precisely because we don't know what Brexit would look like.

Leave campaigners promise ongoing access to the Single Market, it's not clear what Britain would have to offer in return.

Could a departure from the EU could affect the UK travel industry?

All of which makes the case of Norwegian Air rather interesting. Norway isn't in the European Union and Norwegian Air is thriving. Since 1993 it has grown to become Europe's third largest budget airline, carrying 26 million passengers last year.

Norwegian Air's main UK base is at Gatwick. 700 pilots and crew work there currently but the airline wants to increase the number of long distance Dreamliner aircraft based at the airport from 2 to 50. And here's the thing, the chief executive, Bjorn Kjos, tells me Brexit would have no impact on his expansion plans.

ITV News: "Just to be clear, in the event of Brexit, would you employ fewer people in Britain?"

Bjorn Kjos: "No, no. I mean I have 30 Dreamliners coming in here. I need at least 50."

Norwegian Air chief executive, Bjorn Kjos, says a Brexit would have no impact on UK expansion plans. Credit: ITV News

JH: "Would you fly fewer routes?"BK: "No. I will fly the same amount of routes. That I will definitely do"

JH: "Would your prices go up?"BK: "No, I don't think so. We are here providing low fares to everybody... whether you are in the EU or not that's not the problem."

Prices, choice, jobs. When it comes to holidays, these are the metrics most people in Britain arguably care most about and in Bjorn Kjos's view they would not change materially if we vote to leave the EU. Unlike Easyjet, Norwegian believes the benefits EU membership has delivered to-date look permanent.

Leave campaigners will be delighted but here's the rub: Bjorn Kjos also believes Britain is better off in the European Union.

As a member of the European Free trade Associate (along with Iceland and Lichtenstein) Norway has managed to negotiate access to the Single Market but not on terms Bjorn Kjos considers should be attractive that Britain.

Norwegian Air is thriving although Norway is outside the EU. Credit: ITV News

As Mr Kjos points out, Norway is not in the EU but continues to contribute to the EU budget, has to accept the freedom of movement of EU citizens and is forced to implement many EU laws and regulations which, as a non-member, it cannot shape.

In Bjorn Kjos's opinion there's no reason for anyone in Britain to fear life outside of European Union but neither can he think of any reason to desire it.