Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has threatened to sell his family’s 37.5% stake in easyJet in protest against directors’ plans to buy more new aircraft.
In an open letter to easyJet’s board, he warned that if the company’s bosses bought any more new planes, he would sell the family’s stake worth £1.3 billion, arguing that ordering more aircraft would “screw up” its financial success story.
Haji-Ioannou, who founded the airline in 1995, said he sold 200,000 shares last week to send a “clear message” to the directors.
“If the board places another order for aircraft, it will destroy shareholder value into the future,” Haji-Ioannou wrote. “If they place such an order now I will be looking to dispose more of my stake before this happens.”
According to the Telegraph, the easyJet founder said that aviation history showed “a depressing trend of countless iconic airlines (once mighty names of the skies) going bust because their managements bought more aircraft than they had profitable routes to service”.
Haji-Ioannou said: “Let’s avoid this happening at easyJet! I will be a loyal shareholder for the long term provided management doesn’t squander any more of our cash on new aircraft for at least the next four to five years.”
He said the only reason easyJet posted higher profits is because customers are paying a third more than they did four years ago.
“Such price rises are only possible with a slow growth in fleet numbers,” he said.
Travel Weekly contacted easyJet for a comment regarding the open letter, and is awaiting a response.
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