easyjet’s founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has referred the budget carrier to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for not demonstrating “the highest standards of disclosure and transparency” in its decision to defer the order of 24 new aircraft from Airbus.

In an update statement on the easyGroup website, Haji-Ioannou said he had hired a hard hitting legal team to expose deficiencies in a board announcement made on April 9 to “defer” 24 aircraft deliveries from Airbus, with an option to defer five more in 2022. The carrier’s founder is the majority shareholder, holding 34 per cent of the company.

No new planes for easyJet in 2021

The deferment of deliveries will mean that easyjet will not take any deliveries of new planes in 2021 and the exact delivery dates of the deferred aircraft will be agreed with Airbus in response to the demand. The delivery deferral and Hajo-Iannou’s subsequent referral of board decisions to the FCA are the latest events in the month-long dispute, which has seen the airline’s founder at loggerheads with the board over the deal for 107 new Airbus aircraft.

Haji-Ioannou says survival of the carrier depends on cancellation of the deal. easyjet’s revenues have slumped due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the budget carrier has grounded its entire fleet.

“Scoundrels” do not have authority to cut a deal

Haji-Ioannou is arguing that the “new deal with Airbus” must be put to a shareholder vote.

He said: “The scoundrels at easyJet do not have the corporate authority to cut such a deal given the collapsed share price and the monumental size of the Airbus order of circa £4.5bn. If the FCA does not force the scoundrels to call a shareholder vote on new deal with Airbus , easyGroup will not hesitate to seek a judicial review.”

“In plain English that means going to High Court judge to ask for an injunction to require the regulators to do their job properly.”

An easyjet spokesperson said: “The company is well aware of its obligations and constantly reviews its obligations under the Market Abuse Regulation”.