EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou has threatened to withdraw the right of the carrier to continue flying under its brand-name within 90 days, unless urgent action is taken to address operational concerns.
In a blistering attack on the airline's board, Haji-Ioannou states that EasyJet's punctuality and flight-cancellation rates are "completely unacceptable".
He accuses the management of running the airline "in a way which is materially detrimental" to his investment company, EasyGroup, under whose brand licence the carrier operates.
Haji-Ioannou claims the airline is in breach of three specific clauses set out in the licence.
He has issued a formal cure notice, requiring EasyJet to fix the issues within 90 days. If the board fails to remedy the situation by 26 October, the notice states, EasyGroup will "have the right to issue notice of termination of the brand licence".
In a separate communication to EasyJet chairman Mike Rake, Haji-Ioannou dismisses the airline's claims that air traffic control has contributed to the punctuality problems.
"I do not accept that this is a true reason," he says. "It is clear that it is a result of poor management and staffing."
Haji-Ioannou reiterates his belief that EasyJet has been expanding too quickly and renews his attack on former chief Andrew Harrison's strategy, accusing him of laying off staff in the winter to save costs but failing to cut back flights to match crew numbers.
"The result of the operational mess that the company is in is that it has too few staff to meet the number of flights it has sold," he says.
"Naturally this mess puts into serious question Harrison's entire fleet plan and the need to buy any more aircraft from Airbus would have to be scrutinised properly this time including the validity of the current Airbus contract."
Haji-Ioannou warns that EasyJet's reputation is at risk and that, as its brand owner, he "cannot stand by and let this happen", adding: "Rest assured that if the necessary steps are not taken to improve the performance to an acceptable levelI will not hesitate to terminate the licence."
EasyJet could not immediately be reached to comment on the situation but the airline stated yesterday that it was taking actions to mitigate its crewing problems.