For the last couple of years Stelios has been conducting an increasingly acrimonious dispute with the board of easyJet. It has to be said that easyJet’s management did go through a serious blip but that seems to be behind it now. Stelios has continued to pick fights with the board over a range of subjects. Nothing they can do is right and they are subject to public lambasting by the truculent founder.
The Board has made many efforts to appease Stelios, not least agreeing to the payment of a large dividend but Stelios is not finished yet.
Now, he says, he is going to start his own airline, Fastjet.
So far, little work seems to have been done on this or, if it has, it has been kept remarkably quiet. It could be just another spoiling tactic in the on-going battle.
Without knowing the precise deal between the airline and the owner of the easy brand, it does look very much as if Stelios is out of order in this. Surely you cannot charge a hefty fee to a company for the right to use your name whilst you are secretly setting up your own rival?
Margins are tight in the airline business. I have long thought that the fee the airline pays to easy group was a waste of money. Now, maybe it gives the airline a chance to walk away, paint their aircraft green or some other tasteless colour and call themselves “Simple Jet”. They will save unnecessary expenditure and lose a very irritating and negative presence.
Stelios seems to think that the name easy stands for something valuable. In fact, few of the easy-branded ventures have been a success – and several were dismal failures. To the public, “easy” means the airline. If the airline changes its name, Stelios loses income and the value of his cherished brand diminishes.
There is clearly no point in trying for a peace agreement because war will only break out on another front in a few weeks. The Board of the airline should say good-bye to Stelios and his over-hyped brand name. And if he really does start his own airline, what are the odds on its survival?