EasyJet’s $10 billion-plus order for more than 100 new Airbus aircraft has rekindled tensions with the founder and largest shareholder of the budget airline, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.
The carrier yesterday agreed to acquire 100 new generation Airbus A320neo aircraft for delivery between 2017 and 2022 and take options on a further 100.
The airline is also acquiring 35 existing A320s to enter service between 2015 and 2017.
EasyJet said it had negotiated a “very substantial discount” from the list prices of the aircraft of $76 million per A320 and $92 million per A320neo.
But Sir Stelios, a long-term critic of easyJet’s fleet expansion strategy, responded by saying: "Yet another huge capital expenditure deal with the same supplier at ‘secret’ price. Naturally it raises more questions than answers.
"We will ask all our questions when we have seen the full shareholder circular which must include the actual price to be paid for each aircraft and the incremental profit each of these aircraft will actually deliver."
The order also angered Boeing, which previously supplied aircraft to the UK airline until it switched to Airbus in 2002.
A spokesman for the US manufacturer told Reuters: "Airbus's original capture of easyJet as a customer was a key part of the US complaint in the World Trade Organisation about the massive harm that illegal government subsidies to Airbus has caused Boeing.
"Airbus's recent sales to easyJet are a continuation of the harm that resulted from Airbus having been able to 'flip' EasyJet as a customer. This is another vivid reminder as to why the EU must finally put an end to market-distorting launch aid."
Airbus hit back with an attack against Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.
"This is an insult to (easyJet's) rigorous evaluation that clearly saw the A320neo winning," an Airbus spokeswoman said.
"If we were to apply the Boeing logic on the WTO rulings, the 787 would not exist if not for subsidies."
The airline’s chief executive Carolyn McCall said: "Ultimately, Airbus offered us the best deal, and at a price with a greater discount to the list price than their landmark fleet purchase with easyJet in 2002."
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