EasyJet founder set to launch EasyJet competitor

Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of EasyJet, is set to launch a new airline to compete with his old company. The new airline will be called FastJet. Stelios sold controlling interest in the business ten years ago, and has been operating under a non-compete agreement with the new owners, but he claims that they have breached the agreement and so he's ready to go head to head with them.

I rather like EasyJet for providing a simple, bus-like shuttle around European cities. Generally, they provide superior service to their low-cost rivals RyanAir (I wouldn't fly RyanAir again even if it meant missing someone's funeral). And they've often shown innovative flourishes that I really appreciated -- for example, in Geneva, the EasyJet automatic check-in dispenses boarding-cards that are the same size as credit cards, so you can carry them in your wallet.

I'm inclined to think that whatever Stelios launches next will benefit from all the stuff he learned with EasyJet, and yet will be able to start afresh, avoiding whatever baggage EasyJet has to lug around as a result of its mistakes along the way. Certainly, Stelios seems to me to be someone who believes in a less humiliating, less uncomfortable, less stressful travel experience, and we could always use more of that.

One immediate difficulty Haji-Ioannou faces in launching a rival is that he continues to own 26% stake in easyJet, while family members have an 11% stake through a company called Polys Holdings.

The Haji-Ioannou family's combined holding was worth around £550m at Monday'sclosing share price. There were reports that other shareholders were calling for him to sell immediately.

It may not be easy, either, for Haji-Ioannou to achieve the success he had with easyJet when setting up a new airline.

(Image: Stelios Haji-Ioannou, CEO of easyGroup, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from 35952250@N02's photostream)


  1. I won’t have Ryanair insulted in such a fashion. Yes they are the cheap coach service of the sky, so as long as you treat as a cheap coach service, it’s fine. I never would have seen half of Europe without them. Berlin return for €50? Paris return for  €40? Come on.

    1. Yes, and the last time I flew to Berlin with them, they flew me to Munich and said, “You’ll have to wait here for 3h to get a coach the rest of the way.” On the way back, they locked us in a lounge on the way out for 1h with no toilets, then wouldn’t let us use the toilets after we boarded, and threatened me with arrest when I went for a pee.

      1. That is pretty shameful, but in my experience Ryanair has always been fine and have used it almost every other month for the past 10 years (bad, bad carbon footprint…). Yes, it’s tacky, annoying and a bit uncomfortable but without it, my social and romantic life around Europe would have been very different. Two summers ago I travelled from London to Barcelona, Paris, Porto and Berlin for £10 return to each city (and no hidden taxes) which is nuts! I prefer Easyjet but quite often is just too expensive (or Ryanair might just be too cheap…).

    2. It’s not like they’re Qantas or anything.

      …and for the record, Etihad Airways, the largest carrier in the UAE, is considered one of the best in the world. 

  2. Easyjet don’t lug baggage around – they leave it at the starting airport for you to recover later.

    (too easy!)

  3. I’m particularly fond of Easyjet’s ‘documentary’ TV series Airline, currently on high rotation on Australian TV. There’s nothing quite like the schadenfreude you get from watching someone suffer a complete psychotic breakdown because they arrived at the airport ten minutes after the boarding gate closed.

  4. Yep, EasyJet is a perfectly fine airline and Ryanair is absolutely the pits of the pits… There is certainly space for Stelios to replace all those awful Ryanair flights.. I don’t know anybody who has ever enjoyed the tryanair experience..
    EasyJet is of course no luxury airline, but look how cheap it is!

  5. I’ve also had no problems with Ryanair, I’ve flown with them more than 40 times now. They are fast, reliable and so unbelievably cheap, it’s costing me less to fly return from London to Dublin than it is to get the return train from Dublin to Limerick.

  6. The last time I flew with EasyJet there were so few staff at the check-in desk I almost missed the flight.  In the departure lounge there were announcements that we’d be boarding very soon every ten minutes, but we actually boarded an hour late.  Once on board, the head cabin crew person blamed (in an unprofessional rant) the airport for prioritising the other airlines.

    The time before that, I flew from London Gatwick to somewhere above Belgium (halfway), then we turned back.  There was a fault with the plane, which the captain assured us was not a problem, but meant it would not be allowed to take off once it landed.  Since EasyJet didn’t have a spare plane in Köln (the destination), or a spare pilot at Gatwick, we returned to Gatwick.  We weren’t given a free meal or drink, though the delay was long enough to require it.  Possibly I was entitled to compensation, but I gave up arguing with the customer services person.  They argued it was an emergency. If it was, I don’t know why we flew for an hour back to London…

    In both cases I received an automatic email.  “We’re sorry about your flight from LGW to CGN” etc.

    The time before that …

    Ryanair is crap, but reliable.  I don’t expect to enjoy the flight, but I wouldn’t expect to enjoy an intercity coach journey (rather than a more expensive and more convenient train).  The plane will leave from some remote airport, but it will leave on time, and it will arrive on time.  It’s often worth the extra (scheduled) journey time to avoid EasyJet. 

  7. Stelios is probably not really opening a new airline.  He launched a $5 website as part of his current war on EasyJet and called a few newspapers.  Last week he decided he wanted board member removed, except he didn’t really, and EasyJet “suddenly” decided to pay a dividend this fiscal year, mostly to him.  

  8. Wasn’t Stelios fond of suing everyone who had “easy” as part of their name?  Has years of such douchebaggery been forgiven?

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