In a statement released on Saturday, the carrier announced the firm intention of the current chairman, John Barton, to step down as chairman of the company once he will have completed 9 years in the role. And although it may seem a precipitated move, particularly in such a volatile time for the industry, the budget airline has explained that a 9-year-period falls under the “recommended maximum for best practice of corporate governance.”
As such, EasyJet has already commenced a process to find the right successor and “ensure an orderly transition” and has involved the independent recruitment company “Lygon Group” to help along with the decisive task. The company has however stressed Mr. Barton’s “full commitment to his role” for the remaining of the year, avoiding any sort of polemic over the foregone departure.
The selected candidate will, therefore, takeover in May 2022, and he or she will have to prove their ability to take control of a troubled company that predicts a bounce back only in the second half of this year while keeping all stakeholders satisfied. This last factor will surely be considered as a result of the existing conflicts between the current board and founder/shareholder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou who severely criticized Mr. Barton’s plans to continue with a £4.5bn worth 100 Airbus jet order.
An unsuccessful attempt to oust Mr. Barton during an EGM last year provoked Sir Stelios’ first disinvestment from the company since its debut in the London Stock Exchange back in 2000. Despite his notorious disagreement with the aircraft purchase, he has always remained the largest shareholder of the company.
Since the beginning of the crisis, the orange carrier has been able to raise £5.5bn through new loans and existing shareholders and has been able to reduce costs by cutting 30% of its labor, resulting in more than 1,300 voluntary redundancies. This Thursday, the company will release its first-half results where a loss of at least £690m is expected as a consequence of the ongoing travel restrictions – only 4m passengers flew with them during the period – and recurrent fleet groundings.
The British carrier has been actively involved in talks with the local government to enlarge the “green list” of countries that the UK considers Covid risk-free. The new measures will be implemented from Monday 17th on and are expected to considerably reduce travel expenses by avoiding costly hotel quarantines and ultimately boosting holiday bookings.
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