EasyJet boss to stand down in 2025

Budget airline easyJet has revealed boss Johan Lundgren will step down in 2025 after seven years at the helm as it reported improved half-year losses.

The carrier said Mr Lundgren, who became chief executive in December 2017, will leave early next year and will be succeeded by chief financial officer Kenton Jarvis, who has been with the group since February 2021.

Details of the planned change at the top came as the group reported a headline pre-tax loss of £350 million for the six months to March 31, narrowed from losses of £411 million a year ago, and forecast strong profits growth for the full year.

EasyJet chairman Sir Stephen Hester said: “We are sad that Johan will retire from easyJet.

“He has done an excellent job as our chief executive since December 2017, steering the company through the immense challenges of the Covid period, and setting up a clear strategy and strong execution plan.”

He added that his successor Mr Jarvis had “impressed since joining easyJet in 2021, is fully bought in to the plan and will hit the ground running”.

Mr Lundgren said: “There are important things still to accomplish over the balance of the year, but when the time comes I will leave easyJet with a great sense of loyalty and of pride at the progress made and the potential the company has for the future.”

In a conference call with reporters, he would not be drawn on why he was stepping down, but said he will have been at the company for more than seven years, which is “probably longer than most FTSE 100 CEOs have been in place”.

Asked what he intends to do after he leaves easyJet, Mr Lundgren replied: “I have no idea.

“The next thing I’m going to do is focus on the summer and focus around all the initiatives that we have.

“When the time comes in early 2025 then we’ll see.”

Mr Jarvis said he is “very sad” that Mr Lundgren will leave his role but is “absolutely delighted” to be succeeding him.

He went on: “I’ve got a huge belief in the company and I’ll be very proud to take on the role.

“From a what will change perspective, I’ve been on the board of easyJet for over three years now and have been an active part of co-creating with Johan – and the rest of the management board and the team here – the current strategy.

“So I’m 100% committed to that current strategy and also very confident in our ability to deliver on the medium-term targets.”

The firm’s half-year figures showed losses narrowed despite a £40 million hit because of the war between Israel and Hamas, which saw flights suspended to Israel and Jordan, alongside a softening of demand for trips to Egypt since the conflict began in October.

An early Easter helped offset the impact in the first half, when seasonal demand for air travel means airlines often record losses in the winter followed by profits in the summer.

EasyJet saw interim pre-tax profits at its package holidays arm more than treble to £31 million and predicted full-year profits at the burgeoning division to rise by around 40% to more than £170 million.

It grew its flight programme by 12% in the first half and flew 11% more passengers at 36.7 million.

EasyJet said: “Other than the suspension of flights in response to the Middle East conflict, disruption in the first half of the year was considerably improved compared to the first half of 2023, which saw widespread industrial action impacting air traffic control and other flight services.”

It said bookings were on track for the summer season, with around 77% of its third quarter programme sold and around 39% of the peak period sold.

But it said fuel costs jumped 18% higher in the half-year to £914 million and cautioned that the “price of jet fuel remains high due to global demand, and supply instability from geopolitical events”.

Mr Lundgren said: “We are now absolutely focused on another record summer which is expected to deliver strong full-year earnings growth.”

EasyJet also announced it will reopen its base at Southend Airport in March next year.

It will base three planes at the airport, from where it already serves several destinations such as Amsterdam, Geneva, Faro and Mallorca.

The airline suspended its Southend operations in August 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.