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Sir Stelios itching for a dogfight with easyJet

The founder and his family still own 37% of easyJet so the chances of him setting up a rival airline slightly less than zero

That’s gratitude, eh? You hand a guy £71m in dividends and what does he do? Only go and set up another airline.

Welcome, once again, to the entertaining tiff between Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and the directors of easyJet. In Monday’s instalment, the great man accused the directors of conducting a smear campaign by whispering poison in the ears of journalists.

He didn’t offer any evidence to support his claim but the offence is apparently so grave that Haji-Ioannou thinks he should be released from a clause in a “comfort letter” preventing him from setting up an airline. Indeed, he considers himself released already. He’s even got a name for his new venture – Fastjet.

Would-be passengers should not all rush at once. Fastjet’s one-page website offers no hint that this new airline has access to any actual planes but, hey, such details can always be filled in later.

Until they are, though, easyJet’s board would be well advised to do nothing. The founder and his family still own 37% of easyJet so the chances of him setting up in direct competition are slightly less than zero, unless he intends to find a buyer for his shares.

Still, even the launch of an indirect competitor should guarantee endless fun. After last week’s bumper special dividend, there was a serious danger that peace might break out between Haji-Ioannou and easyJet. Not now. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds