EasyJet chief ex­ec­u­tive flies into Bri­tish TV firm’s top job

‘Im­pres­sive field for high cal­iber can­di­dates’

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

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.

‘High-cal­iber’

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

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