Stelios and National Express clash over easyBus

Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the easyGroup founder, walked into another row with a direct rival yesterday when he accused National Express of deliberately trying to put his new easyBus operation out of business.

Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the easyGroup founder, walked into another row with a direct rival yesterday when he accused National Express of deliberately trying to put his new easyBus operation out of business.

He said National Express was acting illegally by "price dumping", which was an abuse of its dominant market position. He accused it of slashing bus fares on its Milton Keynes to London route to £1, to try to scupper his easyBus service between Milton Keynes and Hendon, north London, which starts today.

Stelios said: "What they [National Express] are hoping to do is make easyBus unprofitable in the hope that we will withdraw the service so that they can put prices up again." He intends to meet lawyers today to draft an official complaint about National Express to the Office of Fair Trading.

"Thankfully I have the financial resources to fight the battle for a very long time but I think the regulators should intervene and prevent an unlawful abuse of dominant position so that easyBus can continue to offer low bus fares to more people on an increasing number of routes," he said.

A spokeswoman for National Express said: "We strongly refute the allegation of price dumping." She insisted that the company had been offering £1 fares on the Milton Keynes to London route - as well as others - "for some time" and that it was simply using the same yield management techniques as used by Stelios.

She said National Express introduced £1 fares 18 months ago between Leicester and London - a service which stopped at Milton Keynes, allowing people to board the bus to London for £1. "We knew people were doing it so a month ago we simply formalised it by launching a specific Milton Keynes to London £1 fare."

Stelios is already embroiled in a row with Orange, the mobile phone group, over his new easy-Mobile phone service. Orange is objecting to him launching a mobile phone business using easyGroup's corporate colours of orange with white lettering. It says the move will confuse consumers, insisting it has exclusive rights to use the colour in the mobile phone market.

Stelios will try to hammer out a compromise with Orange today. He has said he is willing to go to court to defend his right to use easyGroup's colours.

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