Easyjet’s estranged founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, is to vote against the budget airline’s plan to buy 135 Airbus planes.
Sir Stelios, who still has a 37 per cent stake in the airline and regularly opposes the current board’s decisions, yesterday claimed the new fleet was not needed and its real cost had been kept secret from shareholders. EasyJet announced last month that it would buy 35 A320 aircraft and 100 new A320neo jets, with options for a further 100.
It did not reveal the value of the deal – which must be approved by major investors at a meeting on 11 July – but said it had negotiated a “very substantial” discount.
EasyJet sent a detailed circular to shareholders late last month and airline executives have been meeting top institutional investors to discuss the order over the past two weeks, sources close to the airline said.
Sir Stelios said the company circular threw up an “unexplained difference” between the $76m (£50m) list price it gave for the planes and the $88m for the same planes published on the Airbus website.
“I believe these decisions have been made behind closed doors, mostly by City insiders playing with other people’s money,” Sir Stelios said in a statement.
EasyJet declined to comment on Sir Stelios’s remarks. Airbus also declined to comment.
Despite his objections, Sir Stelios said he expected the deal would be passed by the majority of the budget carrier’s shareholders.
Shares in EasyJet closed up 51p, or 3.9 per cent, at 1,347p.