15 JULY 2013
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EasyJet, Britain’s biggest airline, can continue with its plan to buy 135 new Airbus A320s after shareholders backed the deal on Thursday, defeating a move by the group's estranged founder to block it. Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou's is said to be ready to dispose of a large part of his family’s stake in the carrier he founded with just three Boeing 737s in 1995. Now trading at around £13.50, up from around £2 in 2004, the Haji-Ioannou shareholding could realize around £2bn.
"The vote in favour of our new fleet arrangements will allow easyJet to continue its successful strategy of modest, profitable growth and sustainable returns for our shareholders", said Chairman John Barton.
EasyJet had defended the deal, saying it had negotiated a "very substantial" discount for the jets. Cries by Stelios to publish details of the purchase were quashed both by easyJet and Airbus. What an airline pays for aircraft is never made public. Two thirds of the new planes will be used to replace its 156-seat A319s, the bulk of its fleet, the airline said, giving it more flexibility. EasyJet is already Europe’s largest A320 family operator. www.easyjet.com
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