EasyJet's founder and largest shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannou expressed once again concerns about the low-cost carrier expansion plans.
"I remain very concerned with the strategy of the previous management which expanded the fleet to develop summer holiday routes leaving it with approximately 40 aircraft parked over the winter," he commented after the low-cost carrier's announcement of exercising existing options on 15 Airbus A320 aircraft.
The new order represents 17% of the 88 options and purchase rights that EasyJet has outstanding with Airbus. Deliveries of the new A320s are scheduled between 2012 and 2014.
The carrier also secured new options over a further 33 A320 aircraft (easyJet has the right to exercise the additional options up to March 2013) and converted 20 A319 deliveries to the A320 model. EasyJet now holds options for 42 aircraft.
"Today's announcement will ensure that EasyJet is able to continue to execute its strategy of carefully targeted growth and take advantage of opportunities for profitable market share gain," commented the carrier. "EasyJet benefits from flexibility in its fleet planning arrangements and through a combination of the new aircraft order, deferrals and lease extensions means that its growth rate in terms of seats flown can be flexible and dependant on the opportunities available and economic conditions."
EasyJet operated 193 aircraft at 31 December 2010. Before the announcement it had an orderbook for 62 aircraft. The 60 future easyJet deliveries and two ex-GB Airways deliveries are anticipated to be delivered over the next four financial years, 25 in 2011, 20 in 2012, 12 in 2013 and five in 2014.