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30 May, 2023
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Sir Stelios wages battle against board

Greek Cypriot billionaire says easyJet can scrap Airbus deal due to unforeseen circumstances


EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou had some harsh words to say about the company’s finance director, with the Greek Cypriot billionaire renewing his call to whistleblowers to help with useful information to scrap an Airbus deal.

Sir Stelios commented Tuesday on the resignation easyJet finance director Andrew Findlay, which becomes effective in May next year, saying “One scoundrel down, two to go!”

Haji-Ioannou, whose family owns 34% of easyJet shares, has had a fallout with Findlay after the executive board said it could not terminate a contract with Airbus without making the budget airline liable.

But Sir Stelios believes, who cited a force majeure clause on the basis of the coronavirus pandemic, says company executives ought to abandon a €5 billion deal with Airbus that could deplete the carrier’s cash.

Last week Findlay scored a victory over the company’s biggest shareholder, who had called for the finance director to step down along with his chief executive and the chairman of the board. The finance director said he would still step down at the end of his contract.

'I now know the private jet taken by Andrew Findlay to meet the Panama papers lawyer Marc Bonnant was chartered via Luna jets and paid for by Airbus'

A majority voted for the three executives to stay, with the company taking the official position that if easyJet cancels the order it would undermine other services the budget airlines depends on Airbus.

“I think you are wrong,” Haji-Ioannou wrote to the chairman.

Sir Stelios maintains that the French state makes official use of the term “Force Majeure” on their website, arguing that the legal language would afford the airline a way out of the deal due to unforeseen circumstances pertaining to the coronavirus pandemic.

The billionaire, who is known for his charity work through the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation, has offered up to €5.5 million of his own money for “useful information” that leads to the order being cancelled.

“I will call for witnesses for the investigation soon offering the reward of up to £5m to whistle-blowers,” he said.

“I now know the private jet taken by Andrew Findlay to meet the Panama papers lawyer Marc Bonnant was chartered via Luna jets and paid for by Airbus. It flew from Biggin Hill airport, south-east London to BXO airport near Lucerne on 16th November 2016 (not 17th).”

Sir Stelios also said “no wonder the independent shareholders are throwing a party today – (shares up 15%)! We are now getting closer to cancelling the Airbus contract that will save easyJet.”

The board maintains that easyJet cannot enforce a force majeure on Airbus, citing standard practices in aircraft purchase contracts.

But Sir Stelios believes if France uses force majeure, then Airbus must accept it.

Cyprus  |  easyJet  |  Airbus  |  Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou  |  aircraft  |  airline  |  travel  |  pandemic  |  coronavirus  |  COVID-19  |  France  |  force majeure

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