“People are grateful when you make a difference in their lives. This is the essence of every successful company ‘
Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who became the face of easyJet, turned the old model of ticket sales on its head – by booking early you could get hold of the cheapest seats. The longer you waited, the higher the seat prices became. By offering his customers cheap short breaks to European destinations, he created the low-cost, no-frills airline in Europe.
Cyprus-born Stelios Haji-Ioannou, or Stelios as everyone calls him, started easyJet in 1995 on a £ 5 million loan from his father, a shipowner, when he was 28 years old. He rented a single jet that flew from Luton Airport to Glasgow. He had noticed the success of Southwest Airlines’ no-frills airline model in the US and wondered if it could be recreated here.
Haji-Ioannou said, “We only had one plane, the second plane came two weeks later… If it hadn’t gone well, there wouldn’t have been another. We flew to Glasgow and back and the rest is history. “
He floated easyJet in 2000, but stepped down as chairman two years later.
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Since then he has been involved in a lengthy aerial battle with the easyJet directors. Stelios Haji-Ioannou disagreed with easyJet’s board of directors over an Airbus aircraft order valued at £ 4.5 billion, which led to a failed attempt by Stelios to remove four board members. He has publicly called the airline’s board of directors a “villain” and announced earlier this year that he would not be supporting easyJet with more money. Haji-Ioannou and his family continued to sell shares in easyJet and reduced their stake to just 15.2 percent.
Despite his dissatisfaction with the easyJet directors, Haji-Ioannou artfully retained the rights to the Easy brand and continues to receive 0.25 percent of every easyJet ticket sold.
Since then, Haji-Ioannou has launched its Easy brand, especially with its easyHotels, easyGym and easyCar Ventures. According to Sunday Times Rich List, Stelios is personally worth £ 2.2 billion