Easyjet row turns nasty
A BITTER war of words broke out between easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and the budget airline over its poor punctuality yesterday adding fresh fuel to ongoing tensions over their branding agreement.
Stelios, who quit the board in May in a row over strategy but whose private holding company, easyGroup, owns the “easy” brand and licenses it, sent a scathing letter to chairman Sir Michael Rake demanding easyJet improve its performance by 17 October. If there is no improvement, he warned he would terminate the airline’s ability to use the name and orange brand.
He criticised the company for being in an “operational mess” and said that there were “too few staff to meet the number of flights sold”. He also lashed out at easyJet management saying that several years of “building goodwill is being eroded” due to delays and cancellations.
Newly appointed easyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall, who has only been in the job for three weeks, admitted yesterday while delivering the airline’s third quarter results that there was an issue with punctuality.
She said: “There are crew shortages in certain places and we need to get to the bottom of why.”
But easyJet, which is engaged in a long-running dispute with Stelios over its growth plans, struck back saying it hasn’t breached any conditions that would allow Stelios to terminate its brand license.
A spokesperson for the airline said: “[Stelios’] threats have no legal basis.”
EasyJet has just concluded a court battle with Stelios over the use of the licence for non-airline products such as car hire. Meanwhile, despite taking a £65m hit from the volcano disruptions, easyJet posted a 5.3 per cent rise in revenue over the last three months to £759.2m. It still expects full-year pre-tax profit in the range of £100-150m.