What Sir Stelios did next: set up a rival airline to easyJet


The most dysfunctional business relationship in aviation took another bizarre turn yesterday when it emerged that Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the billionaire founder of easyJet, is proposing to set up another airline, called Fastjet.

The news broke when easyJet issued an angry statement insisting that its agreement with Sir Stelios restricted his options for establishing potential competition for the low-cost airline, saying that it would "take necessary action" to protect the brand.

The rift between the UK's biggest carrier by passenger numbers and its largest shareholder has dogged the airline for years. Recently it has centred on the rate of expansion of the airline and the terms by which Sir Stelios's easyGroup licences the name to easyJet. But at the root appears to be the self-styled entrepreneur's unhappiness at ceding control of the airline that transformed European aviation.

Stelios Haji-Ioannou was young, gifted and rich when he decided to set up a no-frills airline in 1995. As an industry outsider, he proved the ideal pioneer: questioning every aspect of conventional airline operations, from travel-agents' commission to inflight catering. From an airline with a questionable livery painted on two borrowed Boeings, it has grown to a fleet of almost 250 Airbus jets – and in the process dramatically cut the cost of flying for the mass market.

So successful they have been that it is difficult to see what space there might be for another start-up airline. The only clues yesterday were two websites, e-jet.com and Fastjet.com, both registered to easyGroup, Sir Stelios's holding company. Both have a deep red background and the message "By Stelios. Coming soon!"

Speculation has included the possibility that the entrepreneur may emulate his mentor Sir Richard Branson, and start researching supersonic travel – or at least revive the idea of Boeing's "Sonic Cruiser", flying close to the speed of sound. But the most likely model is an innovation based on more efficient usage of executive jets – in a sense, the opposite of democratic, mass-market easyJet. At present business aviation is a thoroughly inefficient industry, involving many "empty legs" – planes flying with no passengers. It is conceivable that an entrepreneur with vision and cash can come up with a web-based system that turns the business on its head, as easyJet did.

This would put him in opposition to established aviation interests, particularly the conventional airlines with business cabins, such as BAA, Air France and Lufthansa. But it is also possible that he will simply aim to emulate easyJet, despite the constraints on slots at conventional airports – and the legal threats from the airline.

His easy empire

easyRentacar (Launched April 2001)

A brilliant idea that was ahead of its time. Stelios procured a fleet of A-class Mercedes and rented them out for as short as time as one hour. It mutated into easyCar – a standard car-rental broker.

easyCinema (Launched May 2003)

Could film fans be lured to the cinema by the promise of a 20p film? Not in sufficient numbers. Stelios abandoned the "bricks and mortar" strategy in 2006 – now runs mainly as a DVD rental and cinema booking service.

easyBus (Launched August 2004)

The most enduring terrestrial transportation venture is easyBus, which has mutated into a frequent, low-cost airport bus link.

easyEverything (Launched June 1999)

A chain of city centre internet cafes. The high rents made it unprofitable. Rebranded as easyInternetCafe after a £15m cash injection from Stelios, and devolved to franchisees by 2009.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice