Now Standard Life is under fire from angry Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou
EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou stepped up his pressure on the budget airline yesterday as he called for investor Standard Life to be excluded from any shareholder votes on the purchase of new aircraft.
Stelios, who is the carrier’s largest shareholder, said he welcomed the news that investors will be consulted over future orders of “new generation” aircraft, which came as the airline reported better-than-expected sales for the third quarter.
However, he said Standard Life should not be included in any ballot because the Edinburgh-based life and pensions giant is “too close to Airbus”. Standard Life Investments, which manages the pension scheme of Airbus parent company EADS, declined to comment yesterday.
EasyJet took delivery of 12 Airbus A320 aircraft in the quarter and now has a 211-strong fleet.
The group said pre-tax profits would be between £280 million and £300m in the year to 30 September, up from previous guidance of £272m and ahead of last year’s figure of £248m.
Chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “EasyJet has seen a fall in demand for flights touching London during the Olympic period, both from inbound business travellers and outbound leisure travellers, but forward bookings show a recovery once the games have concluded.”
Revenue per seat during the three months to 30 June was up 5 per cent at £57.58 and the Luton-based airline said passenger numbers grew by 10.9 per cent to 16 million. That helped push total revenues for the third quarter to £1 billion – an increase of 10.5 per cent on a year earlier.
Its load factor – a measure of how full its planes were – rose 2.8 percentage points to 89.1 per cent. Ancillary fees, including baggage charges, rose by £1.20 to £11.81 per seat.
The record rainfall in June prompted Britons to escape to sunnier destinations abroad, with Faro in Portugal and Alicante and Malaga in Spain the most popular destinations.
Last month the group said it planned to cut flights to and from Madrid by 20 per cent and would no longer base crew and aircraft there from next winter after the location delivered the lowest returns of all its bases.
EasyJet, which operates 600 routes across 30 countries, said around three quarters of summer seats were now booked, in line with the previous year.
Looking ahead, capacity in the fourth quarter is anticipated to grow by 6.5 per cent compared to the prior year, assuming no significant disruption.
Numis analyst Wyn Ellis said: “We remain impressed with EasyJet’s performance in difficult circumstances and it is emerging as a winner in the European aviation market.
“Management is also proving capable of taking tough decisions – as the decision to shift capacity out of Spain demonstrates. Our major concern remains Sir Stelios.”
Earlier this week, Stelios launched a blistering attack on EasyJet chairman Sir Michael Rake, who is also deputy chairman of Barclays. Rake’s position at the airline is being put to a shareholder vote next month, and he has already dropped out of the running to replace Marcus Agius as chairman of Barclays, but Stelios said he should have resigned as soon as he indicated an interest in taking the top job at the bank.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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