New easyJet boss wants airline to go from 'strength to strength'

EasyJet's new boss said he wants the airline to go from "strength to strength" as he started his role on Friday.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren, who replaced the long serving Dame Carolyn McCall, met pilots, cabin crew and passengers at the carrier's Luton Airport headquarters.

The travel sector veteran, who joined from tour operator Tui, also visited easyJet's operation control centre and spoke to employees in the hangar.

EasyJet's new boss
EasyJet's new boss

Mr Lundgren said: "I am delighted to have started at easyJet and to have met with so many easyJet people on my first day.

"Having flown with easyJet as a customer many times and competed against the airline for many years, I am full of admiration for the fantastic airline that Carolyn McCall and the whole easyJet team have built.

"My ambition is to help easyJet go from strength to strength, and my aim over the coming weeks is to really get to know the airline and to hear from the easyJet team on how best to continue to build on the energy and momentum easyJet has."

The FTSE 100 firm is paying Mr Lundgren an annual salary of £740,000, while handing him the opportunity to bank a maximum yearly bonus of 200% of his salary.

In July, easyJet announced Dame Carolyn will join ITV as the broadcaster's first ever female chief executive in January 2018.

EasyJet new boss
EasyJet new boss

She has headed up the low-cost airline since 2010, and has been widely praised for her tenure at easyJet and for raising the profile of women in business.

But she leaves the low-cost carrier at a difficult time for the sector in Britain, with Brexit storm clouds gathering over the travel industry.

The pound's collapse has meant less people travelling overseas and, more starkly, British airlines are at risk of being grounded unless Tory ministers strike an aviation deal with the European Union before March 2019.

To mitigate the impact, easyJet has obtained a new air operator's certificate in Austria to allow it to continue flying in the EU after Britain's divorce from the bloc.

EasyJet reported last month that annual profits nosedived by 17% after taking a £101 million hit from the weak pound.

In her last set of results at the airline, Dame Carolyn said it had been a "difficult" year for the industry as she posted headline pre-tax profits of £408 million, down from £494 million the previous year.