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The Independent Online
Now here's a piece of advice for anyone who is scared of flying - forget all that guff about hypnosis, chatting to the pilot en route or knocking back a couple of stiff drinks before getting on the plane. If you really want to rid yourself of your phobia once and for all, make sure your family has homes scattered all over Europe and then have a go at starting up your own airline company.

Well that was certainly the tack chosen by Stelios Haji-Ioannou, son of millionaire Greek shipping magnate Loucas Haji-Ioannou and founder of no-frills airline easyJet.

"I was scared of flying when I was a young boy," he told me yesterday, "I think I got it from my mother." But the frequent-flying young Mr Haji- Ioannou soon got over his fears. "I was flying very often," he said, "my family had homes all over Europe".

So what does Mr Haji-Ioannou do when he isn't starting up new easyJet routes - most recently Liverpool-Nice and Liverpool-Amsterdam - or co- ordinating his campaign against any attempt by British Airways to launch a rival "no-frills" service - dubbed "BA Cheapo" by easyJet in a recent ad? Well, he flies, apparently. "I try and fly on easyJet about three or four times a week," he confided. "It's the best way to find out what customers think." He also tries to fly to his house in Nice as often as he can.

Aside from flying, Mr Haji-Ioannou is also very fond of his boat, moored in Greece. There's only one problem though - easyJet doesn't fly to Greece.

"I have to fly with the competition, unfortunately," he said. And how does Mr Haji-Ioannou find his rival, BA? "Well, I interact a lot better with the pilots than the cabin crew," he said. "I frequently go into the cockpit and have a good chat with the pilot."

It doesn't look, however, as if Bob Ayling, head of BA, and friends will have the pleasure of Mr Haji-Ioannou's company on his trips back home to Greece for too much longer. "Give me a year and we'll be flying to Athens," said easyJet's chief yesterday.

Former Abbey National manager Garry Brown woke up to a pleasant surprise recently - a cheque for pounds 25,000 for "blowing the whistle" on fraudulent conduct by a senior director.

Mr Brown, who has since left the company, received the unpublicised and unexpected gift after Mike Doyle, marketing services director, was jailed for eight years in July for defrauding the bank of an estimated pounds 1m.

Mr Brown, who has since worked briefly for Volkswagen and the AA, said yesterday that he would spend his cheque on a back-packing journey around South America. "The money was quite unexpected. I didn't do it for that," he said.

Chris Conway, head of Digital Equipment, seems to be picking up jobs at a fine old pace. Only a few weeks ago, Mr Conway started work as a non-executive director at Granville Holdings. And earlier this week it was announced that the 53-year-old IT chief was to sit on the board of Manchester-based industrial services group, Brammer. It seems that Brammer hopes to benefit from Mr Conway's experience of both product distribution and European business.

Mr Conway's first day at work at Brammer was on Tuesday. And how was it, being the new boy on the block? "Fine," he said, "very interesting." There was a Brammer board meeting, apparently, much of which was spent discussing the French lorry drivers' strike. "The truck drivers look pretty determined this time," he noted.

You wouldn't think, on the face of it, that the softly spoken Mr Conway had much in common with the 30-year-old colourful Mr Haji-Ioannou. But a love of boats, it seems, links the two. "I am a keen leisure sailor," said Mr Conway yesterday. Mr Conway, unlike Mr Haji-Ioannou, does not have the dilemma of which airline to choose when he decides to take the boat out for the day - his boat is moored between Portsmouth and Southampton.

Congratulations to Richard Kersley and Steve Wright, equity strategists at BZW and now footsore members of the marathon runners club. They both completed the course in New York last weekend, although Mr Kersley gamely admitted it looked touch and go before his wife kicked him round the last six miles or so. No such cajoling was required for Mr Wright, aka action man, who strolled round in under three hours, finishing around 600th out of 30,000.

Both are now limbering up for the possibly more arduous challenge of individual interviews with their new paymasters at Credit Suisse. It remains to be seen whether Barclays' promise to match the charity fund- raising effort pound for pound (liability, about pounds 2,000) will be assumed by BZW's new owners.

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