Stelios Haji-Ioannou

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Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou
Στέλιος Χατζηιωάννου
Born (1967-02-14) 14 February 1967 (age 48)
Athens, Greece
Residence Monaco
Nationality Greek
Alma mater Cass Business School, London School of Economics
Occupation Entrepreneur
Known for Founder & Owner of EasyJet
Owner of Stelmar Shipping
Net worth Increase US$1.82 billion (April 2015)[1]
Religion Church of Cyprus

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou (Greek: Στέλιος Χατζηιωάννου; born 14 February 1967) is a British entrepreneur of Greek-Cypriot origin, resident in Monaco. He is the scion of a wealthy, ship owning family, but is best known for setting up easyJet, a low-cost airline and the Stelmar shipping line, with start-up funds provided by his father. easyJet's foundation in 1995 marked the beginning of a series of ventures marketed under the "easy" brand.

Family and education[edit]

Stelios is the second of three children by Loucas and Nedi Haji-Ioannou. He was born in Athens, Greece. His father's family originates from the Pedoulas village in the mountains of Cyprus, while his mother is from the Potsos family of Laneia village, outside the city of Limassol. After his secondary education in Athens, he studied Economics at the London School of Economics, graduating with a BSc in 1987. He went on to obtain an MSc in Shipping, Trade & Finance from Cass Business School.

Stelios has subsequently been awarded four honorary doctorates from Liverpool John Moores University, Cass Business School,[2] Newcastle Business School[3] and Cranfield University.[4]

Early career[edit]

A self-labelled "serial entrepreneur", Stelios started working in 1988 for his father's already successful shipping business, Troodos Shipping Co Ltd. At 25, his father gave him £30 million that he used to set up his own shipping company, Stelmar Shipping.[5] Stelios floated the company on the NYSE in 2001. In 2005, Stelmar Shipping was sold to the OSG Group for approximately $1.3 billion.

Shipping disaster[edit]

Main article: MT Haven

In April 1991, a Troodos-owned VLCC oil tanker suffered a disaster that resulted in six deaths and spilt about 50,000 tons of crude oil into the sea - arguably the Mediterranean's worst-ever ecological disaster.[6] The tanker, M/T Haven, was an elderly vessel, formerly the Amoco Haven, sister ship of the ill-starred Amoco Cadiz that had foundered in 1978. Stelios was accused of poor maintenance and charged, in Italy, with manslaughter and also intimidating and attempting to bribe witnesses. Stelios blamed the accident on an error by one of the surviving crew members.[citation needed]

He and his father were acquitted by the jury. Subsequent civil demands for compensation were also dismissed by the courts.[6][7]

The "easy" companies[edit]

Main article: easyGroup

Stelios started easyJet in 1995 when he was 28, running a service between Luton and Scotland. In 2000, easyJet PLC was partially floated on the London Stock Exchange. He and his family remain its largest single shareholders.

Nowadays, acting through his private investment vehicle, the easyGroup, which owns the 'easy' brand and licenses it to the various 'easy'-branded ventures, including the airline. Stelios continues to extend the brand, mainly in the field of travel and leisure.

easyJet PLC is one of Europe's largest low cost airlines by revenue with a fleet of 217(+169 on order) jets carrying over 60m passengers annually.

Other travel/leisure-related businesses include:

  • easyCar, which offers low cost car rental in 2,000 locations globally[8]
  • easyBus, which offers low cost bus transportation between airports and city centres[9]
  • easyHotel, which offers low cost accommodation in city centres[10]
  • easyFoodstore is a new concept, expected to open in 2014[11]
  • easyGym which offers low cost, no-contract gym memberships in 10 locations in the UK

In the June 2006, Stelios received a knighthood from HM Queen Elizabeth II for "services to entrepreneurship".


Main article: Fastjet

In September 2011 it was reported that Stelios was working on a new airline called Fastjet as part of a joint venture with Lonrho plc. The airline started operations on 29 November 2012 with Airbus A319 aircraft.[12]

Libel case[edit]

In 2009, Stelios brought proceedings in London's High Court over Ryanair adverts which appeared in The Guardian, the Daily Telegraph and on Ryanair's website in January and February. The adverts featured a picture of Stelios in the style of Pinocchio and referred to him as "easyJet's Mr Late Again". The case was eventually settled out of court, with Stelios receiving an official apology from the airline and the sum of £50,100, which Stelios announced he would donate to his philanthropic foundation.[13]

Tax status[edit]

Stelios has been a Monaco resident since his late teens.[14]

Politics and public life[edit]

Stelios is a member of the New Enterprise Council, a group set up to advise the Conservative Party on business policy. He stated at the time that this appointment did not reflect his political affiliations, adding "I agreed to be included in the group of entrepreneurs because I was assured it will be non-partisan. [There is] not much difference between Left and Right any more."[15]

On 1 April 2010, in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, Stelios joined 23 other UK business leaders, including Marks & Spencer's Stuart Rose and Next's Simon Wolfson, criticising the Labour government's plans to raise National Insurance contribution rates.[16]

The character of Omar Baba in the BBC TV comedy Come Fly With Me was based on Stelios.[17]


His charitable foundation, the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation, ( supports education,[18][19] as well as entrepreneurial and[20] and environmental initiatives[21] through the provision of funding and advice in the UK, Monaco, Greece and Cyprus.It also sponsors annual awards with a cash prize to entrepreneurs in the UK, Greece and Cyprus.

The Foundation donates ten undergraduate scholarships annually for students taking a three-year course at his alma mater, the London School of Economics and Political Science, and for ten postgraduate students at his other alma mater, the City University, London. It also gives a £50,000 cash prize to the winner of the Disabled Entrepreneur in the UK Award, run in conjunction with Leonard Cheshire Disability. Similar prizes are awarded for enterprises in Cyprus that help foster inter-communal relationships on the island and Greece where the Foundation hosts an award for young entrepreneurs.

Most recently the Foundation has joined the relief effort aimed at helping those Cypriots worst affected by the recent economic downturn. Its "food from the heart" initiative, based in Limassol, hands out free lunchtime snacks to registered recipients. Further outlets in Nicosia and Athens are under development. (

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Stelios Haji-Ioannou". Forbes. 
  2. ^ "FT Innovate Speakers and bios". Financial Times. 2006. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. 
  3. ^ "Top Honour for Stelios". Newcastle Business School. Archived from the original on 19 August 2007. 
  4. ^ "Cranfield University 2006 - Honorary Graduates". Cranfield University. Archived from the original on 1 October 2007. 
  5. ^ Morais, Richard (19 June 2001). "Proving Papa Wrong". Forbes. 
  6. ^ a b "Making it all look easy". Guardian Unlimited (London). 21 April 2002. 
  7. ^ "BBC Radio 4's On The Ropes". BBC. 7 July 2002. 
  8. ^ McAllister, J.F.O. (23 July 2001). "Easy All Over Europe". Time Magazine. 
  9. ^ "Livin' On Easy Street". Time Magazine. 8 May 2005. 
  10. ^ Grose, Thomas (11 April 2007). "A Room with No View". Time Magazine. 
  11. ^ "Stelios plans to set up easyJet-style ‘no brands’ food store - Business". London24. 6 August 2013. 
  12. ^ "Pan-African low-cost carrier Fastjet launches scheduled flights". 2012-11-29. 
  13. ^ "EasyJet founder Stelios wins libel payout from Ryanair". Daily Mirror. 15 July 2010. 
  14. ^ "Hajiioannou, Stelios". Hellenism. 
  15. ^ Parties clash in corporate credentials battle MarketWatch, 15 November 2007
  16. ^ "Business supports George Osborne's national insurance cut". The Daily Telegraph (London). 31 March 2010. 
  17. ^ "Come Fly With Me: fasten your seatbelts". The Daily Telegraph. 20 December 2010. 
  18. ^ Stelios Scholarships City Unjiversity, London, 17 June 2011
  19. ^ Stelios Scholarships London School of Economics, 17 June 2011
  20. ^ CleanEquity Monaco 2010 Cleantech Investor, March 2010
  21. ^ Stelios gives €200,000 for environmental research centre Cyprus Mail, 22 October 2010

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]