ONE of Europe’s leading budget airline carriers, easyJet, has been warned by the man who formed it, that a major aircraft order could see it “run out of money” this summer.
Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou says that a £4.5 billion order with Airbus for new planes should be cancelled and he also called for the removal of Andrew Findlay.
It comes days after Haji-Ioannou, who has the biggest stake in easyJet, requisitioned a shareholders meeting over the possible removal of a director from the board.
On Friday, easyJet rejected the founder’s request for the meeting aimed at removing director Andreas Bierwirth.
Sir Stelios has now called for Findlay to be sacked, as he said it would be “the best way to stop him writing billion-pound cheques plus to Airbus every year.”
It comes after the carrier grounded all of its planes last week as demand for flights collapsed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Chief executive Johan Lundgren has said that the company 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.
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.”