Stelios is to step down with the announcement of the annual results on 26 November.
Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder and chairman of easyJet PLC, said:
“On 18 April 2002 I announced my intention to step down from the board of easyJet PLC at the next annual general meeting, expected to be in early 2003. On the same day, the company announced the appointment of Sir Colin Chandler as deputy chairman and chairman elect. At that time, a longer-than-average hand-over period (12 months) was envisaged in order to complete the then confidential negotiations to acquire Go Fly Ltd and an option to acquire DBA.
“Today, some five months later, I am pleased to report that the acquisition of Go Fly Ltd is complete and the integration process led by Ray Webster, the company`s chief executive, is well under way. The punctuality of the flying programme is back to normal levels (70% within 15 minutes and 92% within one hour for the week ending 8 September) following the recent well-publicised problems with the crew rosters. The traffic statistics are impressive with 1.7 million passengers carried for the combined airline in the month of August at a load factor of 87%. Everything I hear leads me to be confident that full-year results to September 2002 will be in line with market expectations.
“In order to achieve a better delineation of accountability for the following financial year and, rather selfishly, in order to free up my time for my newer ventures, I have decided to formally step down and leave the board on 26 November 2002, the day the company expects to announce its full-year results for financial year 2002. In order to facilitate the smoothest transition, I have asked Sir Colin to chair my last three board meetings starting today, Friday 13 September (the others are 11 October and 25 November), which I will still attend. My decision has the full support of the easyJet PLC board.
“As I have said many times in the past, my intention is to remain a significant shareholder in easyJet PLC for a very long time, however reserving the right from time to time to sell some of my shares to finance my new ventures. Today I personally hold almost 22% of the share capital of easyJet PLC and my brother and sister together hold another 24.4%. During the capital raising for the acquisition of Go Fly Ltd, I did not liquidate any of my shares (contrary to some press reports), selling only enough nil paid rights to take up the remainder of my rights. I have no present intention to sell any easyJet shares in the near future.
“As a result of concentrating my efforts on my newer businesses over the last year, I am pleased to announce that easyInternetCafe has turned the corner and I am looking forward to helping it grow into a substantial business in the next 2-3 years. easyCar is on track for an IPO at the end of 2004 and I am also working on a new start up, called easyCinema.
“Once again, I would like to thank all my colleagues at easyJet for all their hard work over the last seven years that has turned the company into what it is today. I am confident I am leaving easyJet in good hands!”
Ray Webster, chief executive, said:
“I have worked with Stelios from the very early days at easyJet when we were no more than a handful of people based in Luton. His ambition and drive have made easyJet the success that it is today, and I know I speak for all easyJet staff when I thank him for his seven years as chairman of easyJet and wish him all the very best in his future ventures.
“On a separate note, I would like to reassure investors that the process to fully integrate easyJet and Go Fly is proceeding according to our timetable, and I will give a full update with the 2002 full-year results in November.”