Management moves at easyJet

The retirement of Ed Winter, easyJet’s chief operating officer (COO), makes this an opportune time to discuss the make-up of the management team at Europe’s second largest low-cost carrier as it continues its search for a new chief executive to replace Ray Webster.

Webster announced he was stepping down in May. In early August the carrier thought it had got its man in the form of non-executive director Colin Day, but talks broke down and it has been forced to go back to drawing board.

The search is being led by easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who rejoined the company’s board at the same time as Webster’s announcement. EasyJet says the search for Webster’s replacement is on going, but stresses that there is no rush or timetable as the New Zealander has committed to staying until November 2006 while the hunt continues.

The make-up of easyJet’s executive team and its organisational structure will become clearer once the carrier appoints a new chief executive. EasyJet says it will be up to the carrier’s new head how the team is shaped.

The wait means the carrier has delayed naming a new commercial director, following the departure of Mike Cooper earlier this year, although a search for a replacement is underway. Former head of revenue and schedule development John Stephenson is working as interim commercial director.

Winter could be retained as a consultant to the carrier but it is not certain whether the COO position, which encompasses legal affairs and airport and contract negotiations, will be retained or its responsibilities rolled into another position. One possibility is operations director Mike Szucs being promoted to the COO position.

All of these issues will be resolved once Webster’s replacement is in place to shape the new executive team. Word on the street says this is still more likely to be someone from outside the airline industry. With easyJet’s ownership make-up in the news (see related Blog on 16 August) the announcement is being eagerly awaited and takes on a new urgency.

In the meantime, we send our best wishes to Ed Winter, who was the most senior manager that joined easyJet when it bought Go in 2002. He retires at the end of September. Winter, 58, who had wanted to retire at that time, was persuaded to move across to easyJet for a couple of years to help integrate the operations of London Stansted-based Go and assist with easyJet’s fast expansion.

Winter qualified as a commercial pilot in 1967 when he joined BOAC flying Boeing 707s. He remained at BOAC and then British Airways before joining Go. His roles at BA included head of operations for British Airways Regional and chief pilot at Gatwick. His last BA role was as chief pilot for Concorde, 747s and 777s.

Good luck Ed.


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