The boss of low-cost airline easyJet is to leave the company next summer, it was announced today.
Andy Harrison, who joined easyJet from motoring group RAC in December 2005, will step down as chief executive at the end of June in order to “seek new challenges”.
The airline also confirmed that Michael Rake will take over as its new chairman from next month, having joined the company’s board in the summer. He is also chairman of telecoms group BT.
EasyJet has been one of the few airlines to make a profit in the last year, although it has not been without its problems in the boardroom.
It recently resolved a long-running spat with the airline’s founder and biggest shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannou over growth plans, announcing the board had reached agreement on a “prudent” fleet expansion programme.
Stelios owns 15.5% of the company and votes with his sisters to give a combined stake of 26.8%. His brother owns a further 11.3%.
The flamboyant easyGroup empire millionaire wanted the board to consider maintaining dividend payouts by scaling back growth plans to match market conditions.
Interim chairman David Michels, who is remaining with the company as senior independent director, paid tribute to Mr Harrison today.
He said: “EasyJet has been the best performing European airline through the recession and we thank Andy for his considerable contribution during this period and his leadership of the company over the last four years.”