EasyJet Appoints New Deputy Chairman

British low-cost airline easyJet said on Monday Sir Michael Rake, the chairman of BT Group, has been appointed as deputy chairman and that current chairman Sir Colin Chandler will step down on July 1.

An industry source said Rake's appointment lines him up to succeed Chandler and the company is not actively looking for other candidates.

The Sunday Telegraph newspaper had said Rake would be appointed chairman-designate and take over from Chandler after a handover period.

EasyJet said David Michels, currently senior independent director, had agreed to serve as interim chairman from July 1 until a permanent successor to Chandler is appointed.

EasyJet's founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, whose family own 38 percent of the company, gave his approval to the appointment.

"Having participated with other colleagues in these new appointments, I look forward to working more fully with Sir David and welcoming Sir Michael onto the board as we take easyJet into the future," he said.

Stelios had been in conflict with the current board over the pace of expansion at the airline. He had criticized chief executive Andy Harrison for looking to expand too fast during the recession.

Chandler had told easyJet's annual shareholder meeting in February that he planned to step down and a search for his successor was underway.


EasyJet also said Monday that its load factor was down 2.8 percentage points at 84.7 percent in March compared with a year ago due to the change of Easter from March in 2008 to April in 2009.

In the year to March 31 easyJet said passenger numbers had increased by 11.5 percent to 44.2 million, with the load factor up 1.3 percentage points at 84.9 percent.

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