Sir Stelios votes down pay package at easyJet

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The Independent Online

EasyJet's founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou voted down the airline's remuneration package at the annual meeting yesterday in the latest instalment of the long-running dispute with former chief executive Andy Harrison.

Sir Stelios reignited the feud last week by writing to the airline's chairman Sir Michael Rake saying he had not been consulted on the deal to pay Mr Harrison more than £1m for the period from April to September last year, despite Mr Harrison leaving at the end of June.

At the annual meeting yesterday, the executives' remuneration vote was split 172 million against, 160 million for with 25 million withheld, with the preponderant proportion of the "no" votes controlled by Sir Stelios and his family.

Mr Harrison's pay was negotiated in the midst of a brand dispute between easyJet and Sir Stelios. Sir Stelios last week accused Mr Harrison of using the row to take "the upper hand" in the negotiations, and blamed crew shortages that weighed on easyJet's performance last summer on short-term decisions made by Mr Harrison.

"I sincerely hope that this is the last time in the life of this company that a bonus is paid without taking the company's financial results into account," Sir Stelios said yesterday. "No more rewards for failure please!"

Votes on remuneration are advisory only and will make no difference in practice. The money has already been paid and there is no suggestion that easyJet will make any effort to recover it.

The company is keen to put the rumpus behind it. Within three months of her appointment the new chief executive, Carolyn McCall, settled the brand dispute with Sir Stelios. And Sir Michael told shareholders yesterday that Mr Harrison's pay deal was born of unique circumstances unlikely to be repeated.

"The board acknowledges the concern expressed by some at the retention arrangements made in respect of Andy Harrison," Sir Michael said. "These arrangements were a one-off and agreed in unusual and difficult circumstances."