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Easyjet’s founder and largest shareholder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has called on the airline to halt all orders for new aircraft.
In a lengthy letter to Easyjet’s board, Sir Stelios criticised the airline’s plans for its fleet.
In January, the low cost carrier confirmed an order for 15 Airbus A320 aircraft to be delivered between 2012 and 2014, with options on a further 33.
Sir Stelios said shareholders should have beeen given the right to veto or approve the order, particularly as the airline issued a profit warning in January.
Easyjet’s prediction that it would lose between £140 million and £160 million in the first half of this financial year represents “the largest ever loss in the company’s history for the winter months”, said Sir Stelios.
According to the entrepeneur, the original order, dating from 2006, was for smaller and less expensive A319 aircraft.
“It is outrageous that the board continues to spend shareholders’ money on additional, bigger and more expensive aircraft,” he said.
Sir Stelios also questioned the decision to buy Airbus aircraft, rather than Boeing or Bombardier-manufactured planes.
He accused Easyjet’s directors of having an “incestuous” relationship with the French aircraft manufacturer.
“It is time for the company to stop buying aircraft until the full facts are disclosed to shareholders and shareholders’ consent is obtained,” he said.
“The board should stop pursuing a strategy of increasing the size of the fleet that has led to a halving of the profits after tax of each aircraft and the doubling of first half losses until the shareholders have approved the purchase of any new aircraft.”
Easyjet has confirmed that it received Sir Stelios’ letter, and said it will respond to the points raised “in due course”.
"In the mean time the Board wishes to be clear that easyJet's fleet announcement of 4th January complied with all relevant regulations,” the airline said in a statement.
“The commercial value of the deal reflected substantially less than the current Airbus list prices for the aircraft and fell under the threshold for Class 1 transactions requiring shareholder approval.”
The airline added that the new aircraft on order from Airbus would primarily be used to replace existing aircraft that are due to be retired.
"Given the current industry environment, with oil expected to remain over $1000 metric tonne and fragile consumer confidence across Europe, Easyjet has already stated that it intends to hold the size of its fleet at a maximum of 204 aircraft in winter 2011 and winter 2012," the statement said.