EasyJet chief executive flies into British TV firm’s top job
‘Impressive field for high caliber candidates’
British airline EasyJet said yesterday that its chief executive Carolyn McCall will step down at the end of the year to become head of television channel ITV. “After seven years, the opportunity from ITV felt like the right one to take,” McCall said in a company statement of her switch to the British independent channel.
“It is a fantastic company in a dynamic and stimulating sector,” she added. The announcement comes just a few days after the no-frills airline said it would create EasyJet Europe, based in Vienna, in order to keep flying unhindered across the European Union after Brexit. EasyJet said a search for McCall’s successor had begun. “Carolyn built and led the management team that has transformed EasyJet’s performance in every respect since 2010,” company chairman John Barton said in the statement.
“Having first built a solid operational performance, she redefined the customer experience not just at EasyJet but across short-haul Europe and has seen both the number and loyalty of EasyJet’s passengers grow as a result,” he added.
On her appointment at ITV, the broadcaster’s chairman Peter Bazalgette said in a statement: “In a very impressive field of high caliber candidates, Carolyn stood out for her track record in media, experience of an international operation, clear strategic acumen and strong record of delivering value to shareholders.” Prior to becoming CEO of EasyJet, McCall had been chief executive of Guardian Media Group.
From January, she will replace Adam Crozier at ITV, who stepped down from his role in June. McCall’s annual salary will be £900,000 ($1.18 million, 1.0 million euros) alongside a sizeable pension, other long-term incentives and bonuses.
She “will also receive awards to compensate for remuneration arrangements forfeited on leaving her previous employer”, ITV said. In morning trades, EasyJet shares were down 0.3 percent at £14.07, while ITV jumped 3.0 percent to 180.2 pence.
London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index, on which both companies are listed, was up 0.3 percent at 7,398.50 points compared with the close on Friday. McCall is one of only seven women heading a FTSE company following her switch.
“McCall has understanding of the commercial side of the (ITV) business, which complements a creative chairman... and (she) has weathered some tougher times at EasyJet while trebling the share price,” said Jefferies equity analyst Tamsin Garrity. Despite increasing profits massively during her time at EasyJet, McCall has faced much tougher times recently.
EasyJet’s losses grew significantly during the first half of its financial year owing to the Brexit-fuelled slump in the pound and a later timing of Easter. The collapsing value of the pound weighs on EasyJet’s performance because it makes dollar-priced jet fuel more expensive, ramping up the cost of running aircraft.
EasyJet last week said it had applied for a new air operator’s certificate in Austria to continue flying across Europe regardless of the final Brexit deal between Brussels and London.
Britain’s airline industry has soared over the last two decades under the Single European Sky system, which lifted trade restrictions on EU airlines. Unless British negotiators manage to secure preferential conditions, British airlines could lose this status once the country leaves the European Union. —AFP
LUTON, UK: This file photo taken on February 10, 2016 shows EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall speaks during an interview at the airline’s headquarters at Luton airport, north of London. —AFP