When he was interviewing for the job of managing director at his new low-cost venture EasyJet in late 1995, founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou was turned down by a lot of potential applicants. They did not fancy the challenge of running a two-aircraft airline operating out of London’s Luton Airport.
Then another call came in, this time from New Zealand, recounted Stelios at an EasyJet party this week. The man on the phone was Ray Webster, a Kiwi with over two decades of experience of running airlines, latterly at Air New Zealand’s low-fare affiliate Freedom Air. Stelios liked what he was hearing from Ray, but the small matter of being on opposite sides of the world was a hurdle. Stelios needed a leap of faith. “I said to him that if he would come here to Luton for an interview that weekend, at his expense, then I would see him.”
Undaunted, Webster flew over for that weekend. In fact, he arrived a day early to look at EasyJet’s Luton operation.
Stelios was suitably impressed and within 10 minutes Webster had the job.
That was 10 years ago. On Tuesday 29th November, the carrier marked its 10th anniversary and the retirement of Webster with a party.
Webster, who has had one of the airline’s new Airbus A319s named after him, is taking a well-earned break when he officially retires this week. He will spend some time in New Zealand, Christmas in Dubai and some time on the slopes in the New Year. He will remain as a consultant to EasyJet and will begin considering other opportunities next year.
We expect you to take it easy for a while Ray, but don’t stay away for too long.