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EasyJet founder vows to sue execs if they ‘spend a penny’ on new planes | Business News



The founder of easyJet has warned he will sue executives at the airline if they spend a “penny” on a £4.5bn order for new planes.

Sir Stelios Haji-Ionnou said going ahead with the Airbus deal could result in easyJet failing to repay £600m in government loans on time – and described the purchase as “a misuse of taxpayers’ money”.

He has previously warned that the company will run out of money by “around August” if the order is not cancelled.


EasyJet grounds all flights

On Wednesday, he renewed his demands for the airline to remove its chief finance officer Andrew Findlay to “stop him from signing any more billion-pound cheques to Airbus every year”.

Sir Stelios – who holds the biggest stake in the airline – wants a meeting of easyJet shareholders so they can vote on removing Mr Findlay and Andreas Bierwirth, another director.

In a statement, he said: “Unless this vote of all shareholders is called without any further delay, I will request that more directors be removed.”

EasyJet rejected his request for a shareholder meeting on Friday.

The budget airline has grounded all of its 330 planes as demand for flights collapsed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sir Stelios has stressed he will not invest any more cash into the airline while the contract with the plane manufacturer is in place.

His statement continued: “We must stop this river of money from the Bank of England via Luton airport to Toulouse where Airbus is based.

“This is a misuse of UK taxpayers’ money.

“If the French government wants to spare Airbus from the cost of aircraft order cancellations, so they can keep French people in jobs, then they must give such support as French state aid and not expect a British airline to foot the bill.”

He warned he would “personally sue” executives for a “breach of their fiduciary duties” if the firm spends “a penny” on the Airbus order while defaulting on other financial obligations.

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EasyJet said in a statement its board “fully supports” Mr Findlay.

The £600m government fund is from the UK’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) to help firms during the pandemic, which is due to be repaid in March 2021.

EasyJet is understood to consider the government loan as the right course of action and is in talks with suppliers and partners to reduce costs.

The airline also announced it will borrow a further $500m (£406m) from commercial creditors as part of its “focus on maximising liquidity”.

An easyJet spokesman said: “We remain absolutely focused on removing expenditure from the business, engaging with all of our business partners and suppliers including Airbus, and on safeguarding jobs and short-term liquidity.

“The board fully supports Andrew Findlay, easyJet’s CFO, and stands by its collective decision to access the CCFF which was made in the best interests of the company.”

The spokesman added that holding a general meeting “would be an unhelpful distraction” from tackling the many immediate issues the firm is facing.

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