EasyJet shareholders will vote on whether to support founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s bid to oust the company’s chief executive and chairman.
The airline announced it will hold a general meeting on May 22 for the vote to take place.
Sir Stelios, the airline’s largest shareholder, has called for the removal of chief executive Johan Lundgren, chairman John Barton and two non-executives, describing the people in charge of the company as “scoundrels”.
He wants the carrier to terminate its entire £4.5 billion order with Airbus for new aircraft, claiming it will lead to the airline running out of money amid the collapse in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
EasyJet has agreed with the European manufacturer to defer the delivery of 24 new aircraft.
The airline is urging its shareholders to vote against Sir Stelios’ resolutions, warning that removing four directors would be “extremely damaging and destabilising at this critical time”.
Mr Barton said: “The board of easyJet firmly believes that holding a general meeting is an unnecessary distraction at a time when the airline industry is facing unprecedented challenge.
“The resolutions to remove the directors are an attempt to force easyJet to terminate its Airbus contract.
“This is not in the best interests of the company or its shareholders as a whole.”
Sir Stelios and his family own 34% of easyJet shares.
The PA news agency understands that no other shareholders have come out in support of his proposals.
Sir Stelios claimed easyJet’s statement makes its directors “sound just like an Airbus chief marketing officer”, adding: “I hope the second job pays better than the first because they will be losing that one pretty soon.”
He insisted that “cancelling the Airbus contract is the only chance we have to save easyJet”.