EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou loses £1.2BILLION as value of his shares in airline plunge after bosses pushed ahead with £1.5bn deal with Airbus to buy 24 new planes
- Business tycoon calls for ousting of company’s chief executive and chairman
- Sir Stelios accuses firm of behaving like ‘scoundrels’ over decision on planes
- Shares have plummeted since crisis began from 1,508p a share to just 616p
- Pandemic has grounded fleet and firm has asked for £600m Government loan
EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou has lost £1.2billion in less than a month as the value of his shares in the airline plummet during the coronavirus pandemic.
The business tycoon has called for the ousting of the company’s chief executive and chairman after bosses pushed ahead with a deal with Airbus to buy 24 new planes.
Sir Stelios accused the Luton-based firm of behaving like ‘scoundrels’ over their decision to press ahead with the £1.5billion agreement to purchase the aircraft.
The 53-year-old Greek-Cypriot entrepreneur said: ‘I have previously referred those in charge of easyJet as scoundrels. This remains my view.’
EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou (pictured in Monaco) has lost £1.2billion during the crisis
Since the crisis began, shares in easyJet have fallen from 1,508p a share to just 616p today
In other UK coronavirus news:
- A report sent to ministers has suggested coffee shops, restaurants and estate agents should be among the first to reopen on Britain’s high streets, as they are the businesses most likely to boost the economy and pose the smallest risk of spreading the virus;
- There are claims the population could be ‘segmented’ to ease restrictions with young people allowed back to work and primary schools opened, while pensioners and the vulnerable are ordered to stay in isolation;
- One of the Government’s own key experts, Professor Neil Ferguson, has warned curbs cannot be eased until mass testing is in place and criticised the government’s slow action;
- The first newly-adapted ventilator design has been approved by regulators, with the government ordering 15,000 of the Penlon’s Prima ES202 model;
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock has rejected calls for ministers to take a pay cut in solidarity with hard-hit workers, after counterparts in New Zealand announced they would;
- Mr Hancock insisted the government could hit its 100,000 a day testing target by the end of the month, despite questions over why it is still not using the current capacity of 25,000.
Since the crisis began, shares in easyJet have plummeted from 1,508p a share to just 616p today.
Sir Stelios explained he wanted chief executive Johan Lundgren out for ‘sending £1.5 billion of our money to Airbus whilst running an ‘aircraft parking lot’ for nine months’.
He added that the company’s chairman John Barton should go for ‘refusing to instigate an independent inquiry to investigate if the Airbus bribery techniques exposed by the UK court judgment on January 31, 2020 have been used in securing the easyJet order by Airbus’.
Since the coronavirus pandemic grounded easyJet’s entire operation, the company has turned to the Government for a £600 million loan.
But Sir Stelios warned: ‘What the scoundrels are not telling us at all is how much money the company will burn each week after the resumption of flying, which will be well in excess of the £40 million per week that they state that they burn whilst the fleet is grounded.
Empty easyjet passenger planes parked at London Southend Airport in Essex yesterday
Sir Stelios said he wanted chief executive Johan Lundgren (file picture) out for ‘sending £1.5 billion of our money to Airbus whilst running an ‘aircraft parking lot’ for nine months’
‘Flying half empty planes will be heavily loss-making. That £40 million per week of cash burn is before the payments to Airbus…
‘UK taxpayers should be really worried now that they will not see any of their money back in March 2021.’
The airline founder has already called for the heads of two non-executives at easyJet and wrote to the UK financial regulator to warn that the budget airline could be breaching market rules over its deal with plane manufacturer Airbus.
He wanted the deal to go to a shareholder vote, but the company would only say it will defer the delivery of 24 aircraft over the next two years.
The FTSE 100-listed airline said that in an effort to preserve liquidity amid uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, it has deferred 10 aircraft deliveries scheduled for financial year 2020, 12 deliveries for 2021 and two deliveries for 2022.
Sir Stelios added: ‘If I succeed in removing the four directors at the forthcoming meetings, I expect the rest of the board (seven of them left) to promote the COO to acting CEO to run the ‘aircraft parking lot’ and to serve notice of termination to Airbus.
‘Any attempt to operate a fleet of more than 250 aircraft (down from 337 now) is bound to just burn a shed load of cash in 2021.
‘I hope the remaining scoundrels will follow that fleet plan and cancel the order for new useless Airbus aircraft that will lose a lot of money.’
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