Tuesday 7 April 2020 11:41 am

Easyjet founder threatens to sue bosses over Airbus contract

Easyjet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has threatened to sue the company’s board as the spat over a £4.5bn order of planes from Airbus rumbles on.

The Greek-Cypriot businessman told the Telegraph that if any of the £300m the airline has spent in the last three weeks has gone to Airbus, “I will sue the directors for breach of the fiduciary duties”.

Read more: Coronavirus: Easyjet secures £600m in Bank of England funding

The threat comes after Sir Stelios warned that the airline, which has grounded its entire fleet of planes due to coronavirus, would run out of cash by August unless it cancelled the Airbus deal.

Easyjet’s board announced yesterday that it had secured an additional £600m in funding from the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Finance Facility, as well as drawing down $500m (£405.9m)  from its revolving credit facility.

Shares in the airline rose nearly 19 per cent today amid optimism that travel restrictions could be lifted sooner than initially forecast.

Haji-Ioannou is also seeking the removal of Easyjet chief financial officer Andrew Findlay.

Sign up to City A.M.’s Midday Update newsletter, delivered to your inbox every lunchtime

Haji-Ioannou said sacking Findlay “is the only way of preventing him writing billion pound cheques to Airbus every year”.

Last week Haji-Ioannou threatened to sack a board member every seven weeks unless Easyjet’s chairman John Barton complied with his demands.

Due to Barton’s failure to do so, in a new letter Haji-Ioannou has said he will now seek the removal of two board members, including Findlay.

He wrote: “Terminating the Airbus contract is the only chance current shareholders have to maintain any value in their shares.

An Easyjet spokesperson said: “The board is managing the unprecedented challenges facing the airline and the aviation sector as a whole.

Read more: Easyjet founder warns airline could run out of money by August

“We remain absolutely focused on short term liquidity, removing expenditure from the business alongside safeguarding jobs and ensuring the long-term future of the airline.

“We believe that holding a general meeting would be an unhelpful distraction from tackling the many immediate issues our business faces”.