Transport Airlines

EasyJet directors confounded by founder’s confusion about aircraft orders

Feb 22, 2013 1:29 am

Skift Take

The founder of easyJet continues to meddle in the airlines’ affairs, but his skepticism over the current leader’s choices seems wise considering the complicated and odd machinations of everyone involved.

— Dennis Schaal

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Directors at easyJet have survived the latest onslaught from the budget airline’s founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

The company’s pay report was voted through by a majority of investors – although 44.7 per cent of votes were cast against the board at its annual general meeting in Luton.

The rebellion was driven by Sir Stelios, whose family owns 36 per cent of the group.

The entrepreneur has demanded easyJet review plans to buy more planes and has also campaigned against the group’s chairman Sir Mike Rake, who will step down this summer.

Sir Mike fought back against the 44 per cent of investors who voted against him continuing in his role until the summer by pleading for unity at the group.

Exploring the possibility that the group may join the FTSE 100, he said: “It is particularly important in any FTSE 100 company that the company and all of its shareholders understand that it is a FTSE 100 company, and that requires even further emphasis on appropriate, constructive dialogue between shareholder and company, in the interest of London’s reputation and of the company’s reputation.

“That sort of constructive dialogue should, of course, in the first case be in private.”

EasyJet has been one of the industry’s strongest performers in recent months. A mixture of higher baggage fees, more spending by passengers midair and speedy boarding and booking fees has helped the company win market share.

The airline is planning to buy 100 new aircraft from either Airbus or Boeing – a move that has upset Sir Stelios, who argues it should not expand capacity because it will reduce profits.

A spokesman for the 46-year-old said: “We are very concerned about the aircraft order – if it goes ahead, Sir Stelios will sell his shares.

“He wants to stay as a shareholder in the company he founded but is not going to follow it to rack and ruin. As long as he is a shareholder, he will remain active.”

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