Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou (b. 1967) is the businessman best known as founder of the low-cost airline easyJet, and the subsequent series of ventures marketed under the “easy” brand.
Stelios was born in Athens to a wealthy ship owning family with origins in Cyprus. He schooled in Athens before graduating in 1987 from the London School of Economics with a degree in Economics. He then obtained an MSc in Shipping, Trade & Finance from the Cass Business School, and began working for the family shipping business. At 25, his father gave him £30m with which he set up his own company, Stelmar Shipping, a company that would later be floated on the New York Stock Exchange before being sold for approximately $1.3 billion.
In 1995, Stelios started easyJet with a service running between Luton and Scotland. The company saw rapid expansion, growing as a result of acquisitions and further base openings driven by consumer demand for low-cost air travel. It has grown to employ 8,300 people in the UK and Europe, and is the largest UK airline by volume of passengers carried, with domestic and international services on over 600 routes in 32 countries. The company was floated in 2000, with EasyGroup Holdings Ltd as the largest stakeholder. Since becoming a member of the FTSE-100 index, easyJet has cemented its status as one of the largest UK public companies by market value. Stelios has since extended the “easy” brand to other sectors including: easyBus, easyHotel, easyCar, easyOffice and easyGym.
Stelios is a member of the New Enterprise Council, a group of entrepreneurs set up to advise the UK government on business policy. He received a knighthood for services to entrepreneurship in 2006, at the age of 39.
Stelios was honoured by the British Travel & Hospitality Hall of Fame in 2004