Thursday 8 October 2020 12:55 pm

Stelios slams Easyjet 'scoundrels' over Airbus plane deal

Easyjet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has relaunched his crusade against the airline’s board on the back of today’s warning that the carrier might record its first ever annual loss.

Back in May, shareholders voted down a set of proposals from the Greek-Cypriot businessman that would have ousted the airline’s management.

The spat emerged over Easyjet’s continuation of a deal to buy 107 Airbus planes for £4.5bn which Haji-Ioannou says puts the future of the business at risk.

Today, Haji-Ioannou launched another broadside against the carrier, which has warned that it might need more support from the government to get through the current crisis.

“The Easyjet scoundrels must stop squandering shareholders’ money on buying 100 more planes when 75 per cent of the current fleet (337 planes) is just sitting idle on the tarmac”, he said in a statement.

“The scoundrels have lost around £1.3bn of shareholders’ equity in the last 12 months and yet want to keep buying more and more aircraft.

“Airbus has been convicted in the High Court in London of bribing airlines executives all over the world, who have been pressured into buying more planes than they should – thereby destroying airlines’ shareholder value.

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“This has to stop. The UK taxpayer will not get back its £600m in March 2021 because the scoundrels at Easyjet have sent the cash to the kings of corruption in Toulouse.”

Easyjet declined to comment on Haji-Ioannou’s claims.

Turbulent times

In May’s vote, 57 per cent of shareholders voted against the proposals, which would have removed chief exec Johan Lundgren, chairman John Barton and finance chief Andrew Findlay.

Findlay subsequently announced that he was stepping down.

At the time, Haji-Ioannou accused the company of voter fraud, saying:

“At least 15 per cent of the shares held by the three ‘strawmen’ (Invesco, 91 and Phoenix) are controlled by Airbus and were therefore ‘related parties’ in this vote.”

Haji-Ioannou, who controls 34 per cent of the company, had previously offered a £5m reward to any “whistleblower” who can provide information leading to the cancellation of the airline’s 107-plane deal with Airbus.