EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou warns budget airline will ‘run out of money by August’ as he calls for firm to cancel £4.5billion Airbus order
- Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou renews calls to cancel £4.5 billion Airbus plane order
- He also called on the Luton-based airline to sack finance chief Andrew Findlay
- Sir Stelios had previously requested a meeting to axe director Andreas Bierwirth
- It comes after easyJet grounded its fleet in response to coronavirus pandemic
The founder of easyJet has warned that the budget airline will ‘run out of money by around August’, as he urged directors to scrap a multi-billion deal with Airbus to avoid taking tax-payer funded loans.
Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has renewed calls for the airline to cancel the £4.5 billion order for 107 planes, which could stand idle due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
He also called on the company to remove chief finance officer Andrew Findlay, as he said it would be ‘the best way to stop him writing billion-pound cheques plus to Airbus every year’.
It comes days after Sir Stelios, who holds the biggest stake in easyJet, requisitioned a meeting of the company’s shareholders to decide whether to remove another director from the board.
On Friday, easyJet rejected the founder’s request for the meeting aimed at removing director Andreas Bierwirth.
Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of easyjet, has renewed calls to cancel the £4.5 billion order for 107 planes, which could stand idle due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic
Sir Stelios (right) has called for the company to remove finance officer Andrew Findlay, just days after easyJet rejected the founder’s request for a meeting aimed at removing director Andreas Bierwirth (left)
Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has called on the company to remove chief finance officer Andrew Findlay (pictured)
It comes after the Luton-based carrier grounded all of its planes last week as demand for flights collapsed due to coronavirus, of which there have been more than 47,000 confirmed cases in the UK, while 4,934 people are known to have died.
Chief executive Johan Lundgren has since indicated that the airline would consider accepting Government bailout loans if needed.
But Sir Stelios has said it will not need Government loans if it terminates the contract with Airbus.
He also stressed that he will not invest any further cash into the airline while the contract with the plane manufacturer is in place.
Luton-based easyJet grounded all of its planes last week as demand for flights collapsed due to the coronavirus pandemic
In a statement, Sir Stelios said: ‘Terminating the Airbus contract is the only chance current shareholders have to maintain any value in their shares.
‘If easyJet terminates the Airbus contract, then it does not need loans from the UK taxpayer and it has the best chance to survive and thrive in the future with some injection of additional equity provided for by the markets.
‘But if easyJet stumbles along whilst taking UK taxpayers’ money as loans only to pass it on to Airbus, it will have to raise fresh equity anyway in the next three to six months – reducing the value of our current shareholdings to close to zero.
‘For the avoidance of doubt, I will not inject any fresh equity in easyJet whilst the Airbus liability is in place.’
As reported by the Mail Online last week, Sir Stelios said the Airbus order, which will see £4.5 billion paid to the European plane maker over the next three years, is easyJet’s ‘main risk to survival’.
He said he is concerned easyJet did not consider the crisis to be a ‘force majeure’ – a legal term for unforeseen circumstances that allow a business to get out of a contract.
Sir Stelios said: ‘In short, I would rather spend shareholders’ scarce money paying lawyers to defend easyJet against a potential legal action by Airbus demanding payments for dubious penalties rather than buying overpriced planes that will sit on the ground or fly their passengers at a loss.’
He has threatened to remove a non-executive every seven weeks unless his demands are met.
EasyJet has been approached for a comment.