EasyJet criticised over pay report
EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou today kept up the pressure on the budget airline as he spoke out against a £2.5m (€2.9m) retention package for its former chief executive.
Sir Stelios, whose family is the carrier's largest shareholder, slammed pay deals agreed for previous boss Andrew Harrison since May 2009, in particular a £1m six-month fixed agreement.
EasyJet agreed to pay Mr Harrison £750,000, plus a £250,000 bonus between April 1 and September 30 while it sought a new boss.
He left three months into the contract on June 30, after which he was available for advice until the end of September.
The airline's annual report reveals Mr Harrison picked up £2.5m in salary and bonuses during 2010, including the six-month fixed cash payment and £1.2m under a "golden handcuff" retention deal agreed in May 2009.
Sir Stelios, who owns the rights to the 'easy' brand name, said he will vote against the remuneration report at easyJet's upcoming annual meeting on February 17.
He claimed he was not consulted on Mr Harrison's fixed-term package either as a director or shareholder, although he suggests he was aware of the deal at the time and was prevented from speaking publicly.
"This problem emerged as a result of an agreement between Mr Harrison and the then interim chairman, Sir David Michels, in the latter part of 2009.
"At that time, I was still a director of the company and, as such, unable to comment publicly on these matters."
He added: "Now, roughly a year and a half later, after these payments have long since been made and I am no longer an insider, I have the right to voice my concern as a shareholder at the annual general meeting."
He will also withhold his vote to re-elect Sir David at the AGM in Luton.
Mr Harrison was retained amid a legal case surrounding a brand dispute with Sir Stelios, which was settled in October.
He was also kept on "in order to enable the company to operate its activities as an airline on the basis of appropriate management resources" while the carrier recruited his replacement, Carolyn McCall, and a new finance director.
EasyJet declined to comment but its annual report reveals that Mr Harrison's retention deal saw him give up his entitlement to a long-term incentive scheme pay-out of up to 192,325 shares and waive a potential bonus worth up to £590,000.
The airline has had a rocky relationship with its founder in recent years, with a bitter row over strategy and branding culminating in last year's court case.
It was settled, allowing the airline to retain its brand and provide Sir Stelios with a set amount of its annual revenues.
But he has remained a vocal investor, issuing a statement only a month after the court deal questioning the company's fleet expansion plans.