Greece bailout crisis: EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou brings free lunch to the table

Sarah Spickernell
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Stelios founded the low-cost airline in 1995 (Source: Getty)
While Eurozone finance ministers continue to try and come up with a plan to save Greece's economy, one billionaire is giving out free lunches on the street.
Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of easyJet, left Greece 25 years ago and now lives in Monaco, but still has close ties to the country he grew up in and launched his Food From the Heart Foundation to give away meals to poor people in its capital, Athens.
At the moment, around 2,500 Athenians go to his charity each day to be given a meal that would cost around €4 (£2.83) in a supermarket. Stelios told the Evening Standard he's hoping the charity will eventually become “obsolete”.
“They are walking and queuing to receive something worth €4! It shows how much poverty and desperation there is,” he said.
On the day when we open the shutters and there are only 10 people queuing, we can declare victory and get out.
But while he gives generously to those in need, he doesn't tend give those he comes across in business such an easy ride.
In 2013, he warned the board of easyJet that he and his family would sell their whole 37 per cent stake in the business if they went ahead with an order for large aircraft, which he argued would be destructive to profits.
This is reflective of his general relationship with the company he started 20 years ago, which more recently became so volatile the two sides ended up in court over the airline's trademark orange “easy” branding. In the end, they agreed on a revised 10-year branding licence, which will bring in huge sums for Stelios in revenues.
Carolyn McCall, chief executive of easyJet, has been the particular focus of many of his scraps with the company. Two years ago he tried to stop her receiving a £6.5m pay packet at the firm's annual general meeting. Because he owns a large chunk of its shares, he would have needed just a handful of other shareholders to side with him, but his attempt was unsuccessful in this instance.

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