EasyJet shareholders back board in feud with founder

EasyJet shareholders back board in feud with founder

Shareholders in easyJet have backed the company’s board in a bitter dispute with founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou over a multibillion-pound aeroplane deal.

EasyJet said that 99% of votes cast by independent shareholders were against Mr Haji-Ioannou's demands to remove the chairman, chief executive and two other directors from the easyJet board.

However, around 42% of votes cast were nevertheless in favour of firing the four. These were mostly Mr Haji-Ioannou's votes.

The outspoken tycoon had called those in charge of easyJet “scoundrels”, accusing them of sticking to a £4.5 billion deal with Airbus which he believes could eat up all the carrier’s money.

Speaking to shareholders at a meeting called by Mr Haji-Ioannou, who still owns 34% of the business, chairman John Barton stuck by the deal.

He said it will replace many ageing planes, which need extra fuel and maintenance, and is vital for the business.

“The company has no right to unilaterally terminate the Airbus contract because of the Covid-19 crisis,” he said.

Terminating the contract could even call into question easyJet’s position as a budget carrier.

“The board believes that termination would be hugely detrimental and seriously impact the company’s ability to operate as a low-cost airline,” the chairman said.

The new planes will have engines that burn 15% less fuel, and cause 50% less noise on take-off and landing.

He also hit out at “unfounded” accusations against easyJet’s directors, saying that to remove the four directors, including himself, would be “extremely damaging and destabilising at this critical time”.

In response to a question from Mr Haji-Ioannou, Mr Barton said that no incentives had been paid by Airbus to easyJet or its directors in a bid to win the contract.

“The board firmly rejects any insinuation that easyJet was involved in any impropriety,” he said.

It is a major blow for Mr Haji-Ioannou's campaign. He has promised to pay £5 million to any whistleblower who can reveal details that leads to the deal being cancelled.

After the vote was announced, Mr Barton said: “On behalf of the board I would like to thank shareholders for their support.”

He added: “The board seeks good relationships with all of the company’s shareholders and hopes to be able to re-engage constructively with Sir Stelios.”

More on this topic

Colm Regan: I love a straight bit of roadColm Regan: I love a straight bit of road

7 world-famous tourist attractions that are reopening7 world-famous tourist attractions that are reopening

EasyJet founder reveals questions for crunch vote to oust the airline’s bossEasyJet founder reveals questions for crunch vote to oust the airline’s boss

Video: Empty middle seat? Depends on which country you are flying inVideo: Empty middle seat? Depends on which country you are flying in


More in this Section

Coronavirus: Ibec demands faster reopening of the economy and reduction of two-metre ruleCoronavirus: Ibec demands faster reopening of the economy and reduction of two-metre rule

Diane Dodds – Furlough changes incredibly difficult for some firms in NIDiane Dodds – Furlough changes incredibly difficult for some firms in NI

Businesses in UK told to start paying furlough bill from AugustBusinesses in UK told to start paying furlough bill from August

Amazon in talks for new 750-worker Dublin office despite virusAmazon in talks for new 750-worker Dublin office despite virus


Lifestyle

Are any of these items on your wish list?Wish List: A new twist on nautical stripes, smart storage and a very vintage tea set

We've teamed up with the Crawford Art Gallery and are asking our readers to try their hand at colouring in a painting from the Crawford collection. You can print off and colour the painting below.Unleash the artist in you - Colour with Crawford Art Gallery

Beyond the outdoorsy appeal of the clothes, they tellingly portray the pervasive anxiety of our times.Paul McLauchlan's menswear: Why outdoor clothes are here to stay

A mum is campaigning to extend maternity leave to protect her baby, says Sharon Ní ChonchúirStaying safe: Cork-based mum is campaigning to extend maternity leave to protect her baby

More From The Irish Examiner