EasyJet board wins narrow re-election after bust-up with Sir Stelios

The board of easyJet has been narrowly re-elected to serve for another year, months after a major bust-up with the company’s founder.

More than four in five votes cast by shareholders went against the board on Wednesday, the company said.

It included chairman John Barton, and chief executive Johan Lundgren, who each only won a little over 57% of the vote.

The narrow victory for the board members comes after a high-profile battle with easyJet’s biggest shareholder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

Sir Stelios wanted the company to drop a £4.5 billion contract to buy 107 planes from Airbus.

After a heated argument with the company’s board, a vote called by Sir Stelios to remove four directors failed, as other shareholders lined up against him.

Finance director Andrew Findlay announced he would leave the company just days after winning the vote. He will step down in May 2021.

Earlier this week, easyJet pushed back the delivery of 22 planes from the manufacturer.

On Wednesday, easyJet confirmed that it believes Sir Stelios had voted against the board.

“In accordance with the UK Corporate Governance Code, the Board will continue to engage with shareholders to discuss their concerns but understands that this was predominantly as a result of the company’s largest shareholder (and its related parties) voting against these resolutions,” it said.

It came weeks after the company revealed 2020 was the first full year in the red in its quarter-century history, with a £1.3 billion loss.

Passenger numbers have plummeted during the crisis.

Airlines now need to convince travellers to start using their planes again. In June Mr Lundgren said he “would feel 100% safe” on a crowded plane.

“The recommendations that we’ve implemented have been defined together with international regulators … and also our own company’s medical doctors and expertise.”