easyJet plc announced today that Ray Webster, the Chief Executive of the Company, will be stepping down as Chief Executive, following almost ten years - in which he has led easyJet through a period of unprecedented growth - including a listing on the London Stock Exchange, the acquisition of Go Fly, the purchase of 120 Airbus A319 aircraft with options for a further 120 on highly attractive terms and the building of one of Europe’s leading low-cost carriers. Ray has decided that this is the appropriate point in time for the Company to identify and appoint a successor. This will enable him to effect an orderly handover, complete certain strategic assignments and relinquish his executive duties. On the appointment of his successor, Ray will resign from the Board and, up until 30 November 2006, will report to the Chairman, carrying out specified tasks for the Company, which will draw on his expertise and skills.Commenting, the Chairman of easyJet plc, Sir Colin Chandler said:
“Ray’s contribution to the success of easyJet has been hugely significant. As our recently released traffic statistics showed, easyJet continues to perform strongly in the face of competition and other challenges, and in line with our expectations. Ray’s leadership of the easyJet team for almost ten years has underpinned this sustained achievement. However, his strong personal commitment to the Company has been at considerable personal cost. Given that he planned to retire in 2006, he felt the succession process should be accelerated. My fellow directors accept and support Ray’s decision even though we shall greatly miss his talents. A search for a successor, which will include internal and external candidates, is underway, working to criteria established as part of our succession planning.”
Ray Webster said:
“Building and developing easyJet has been the highlight of my long career in the airline business. In the last ten years, easyJet has extended the chance for a much wider number of people to travel in Europe and I’m pleased to have played a role in that. However, there have been some personal costs and I believe now is the appropriate time for the Company to bring forward its succession planning process. The airline is in good shape, with a strong management team and dedicated people, operating in dynamic markets, and I wish the easyJet team considerable future success.”
easyJet is taking this opportunity to announce other planned Board changes. Amir Eilon who joined easyJet in 1999 and currently represents easyGroup on the Board will stay until the Company’s AGM by which time he will have served two three-year terms, and will not offer himself for re-election. easyJet is delighted to invite Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder and major shareholder, to re-join the Board as a non-executive director with immediate effect. He will retain his considerable involvement with his other companies.
Sir Colin said:
“We are delighted that Stelios has accepted our invitation to rejoin the Board as a non-executive, allowing him to maintain his commitment to his other business interests. His entrepreneurial skills and business acumen will be of great value to easyJet as we continue the profitable growth of one of Europe’s leading low-cost airlines. I would also like to thank Amir for his guidance and counsel since 1999.”
Stelios Haji-Ioannou said:
“Ray’s contribution to easyJet and to the European airline industry as a whole has been immense and cannot be understated. Throughout the last ten years his commitment to the low-cost business model and our airline has been huge and he has been a highly valued and trusted colleague.
“As a major shareholder I have always maintained my interest in easyJet plc - a very important investment for me. The Board has kept me informed of the Company’s development all along. By becoming a non-executive director myself, rather than operate through a representative on the Board, I expect it to continue to be business as usual. I hope to make a contribution based on my close understanding of the easyJet business model, an appreciation of its markets and its unique culture. I would like to stress that my role will be in a purely non-executive capacity, given my business commitments with the 14 other easy-branded businesses. Moreover for clarity, I would like to reiterate my earlier position that I have no current intentions to take the Company private.”