Stelios reignites row over EasyJet strategy

EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has reignited his row with the budget airline’s management over its expansion plans and vowed to reduce his stake if the carrier buys more aircraft.

Stelios – who said he and his family sold 600,000 shares last week to send a “clear message” to directors about concerns over its strategy – claimed the current fleet of 217 aircraft was too big.

He added: “If the board places another order for aircraft, it will destroy shareholder value into the future. If they place such an order now, I will be looking to dispose of more of my stake before this happens.”

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Stelios, who failed in his attempt to oust EasyJet chairman Sir Michael Rake last year, said he and his family retain a stake of just under 37 per cent, worth almost £1.3 billion.

He added: “I will be a loyal shareholder for the long term provided management doesn’t squander any more of our cash on new aircraft for at least the next four to five years.”

EasyJet, which will deliver a first-quarter trading update on Thursday, did not respond to requests for comment.