Outgoing EasyJet chairman Sir Mike Rake narrowly avoided having his re-election blocked at yesterday’s annual meeting, which also saw a sizeable vote against the budget airline’s executive pay plans.
Rake stood for re-election despite announcing last month that he would be stepping down this summer after three years in the post, and 44.38 per cent of votes cast at the meeting were opposed to the move.
In addition, 44.71 per cent of votes went against the firm’s pay plans, which will see chief executive Carolyn McCall receive salary and bonuses of almost £1.99 million, up from £1.55m in 2011.
EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who narrowly failed in his attempt to have Rake removed from the board last year, said earlier this month that he would vote against the chairman’s re-election, claiming he has “no long-term accountability for his actions”.
The entrepreneur, who along with his family owns just under 37 per cent of the airline, also said he was concerned it would place a large order for more planes, arguing that its current fleet of 217 Airbus aircraft was “already too big for the winter”.
Rake, who is also deputy chairman of Barclays and deputy chair at BT, is staying on at the carrier to ensure a smooth handover to his yet-to-be-appointed successor. He told shareholders that EasyJet has delivered its investors a total return of 125 per cent since its last annual meeting, through a combination of share price growth and the payment of £196m in ordinary and special dividends.
Shareholders will receive a final dividend of 21.5p per share on 22 March, more than double last year’s payout of 10.5p.
Rake said: “To ensure we remain competitive on cost and aircraft performance over the longer term, we are well advanced in our technical and commercial evaluation of the next generation narrow-body aircraft and engine technology.”
But Stelios said: “The EasyJet fleet is state of the art – there is no aircraft currently in production which is more fuel efficient in that size and configuration.”