easyJet boardroom rumblings intensify

17th Nov 2008

Boardroom discontent continues at easyJet after its founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou has said he wants to appoint two non-executive directors. This follows his call last week for the airline to be run more conservatively, amid speculation he is attempting to regain his chairmanship.

The budget carrier is also unveiling its annual results tomorrow, which analysts predict will slump to around half the £202 million pre-tax profits of last year.Despite a rise in passenger numbers due to its acquisition of GB Airways, the firm made underlying pre-tax losses of £41.4 million during the first six months of the year and like all rivals in the sector, the group’s fuel bill has soared. The airline anticipates spending an extra £185 million this year on fuel.

Sir Stelios wants the firm to begin paying dividends at it scales back growth plans. He has also increased his personal stake in the business to almost 27%.

However the easyJet founder also attempted to quell rumours he is attempting to return as chairman, a role he vacated in 2002.

In a letter to The Times, Sir Stelios said that he had “no desire to be the chairman of any PLC”, adding: “It is not what I enjoy doing in life . . . I have a good working relationship with Sir Colin Chandler. I have nothing but admiration and respect for him.”


The airline has also denied press speculation that it is teaming up with Virgin Atlantic to make a joint bid for Gatwick Airport.

easyJet’s UK Communications Manager Andrew McConnell described
the reports as “factually inaccurate”.

“We are not forming or fronting a consortium and there is no
suggestion that we would contribute financially to any bid,” he said.

“At the most, the airline was considering offering an as-yet unidentified bidder some sort of long-term commitment on capacity at the airport to enable them to evaluate their bid.

“To be clear,” Andrew said, “We are very early in the process, no
decisions on any aspect of this have been made including any
element of a long-term arrangement and it is not even clear if such an arrangement can be reached.”


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