EasyJet Names Its Next CEOBy and
Swede set to join discount carrier at the start of December
Appointment ends U.K. company’s search that began in July
Johan Lundgren, a 51-year-old Swede, will assume the role on Dec. 1, Luton, England-based EasyJet said in a statement Friday. McCall will leave the board a day earlier, while assisting with the transition until the end of the year.
EasyJet has been pursuing the succession since revealing in July that McCall, who previously ran Guardian Media Group, planned to switch to television. Lundgren spent 12 years at TUI before leaving in 2015 as the U.K. arm where he’d worked merged with its German parent, after which he was contractually barred from joining a rival. He has more recently been employed as a travel consultant.
The new chief has proven experience in European transport and is “strategic yet operationally focused,” EasyJet Chairman John Barton said in the release. Shares of the company traded 0.4 percent higher at 1,275 pence as of 12:57 p.m. in London, extending gains this year to almost 27 percent and valuing it at 5 billion pounds ($6.6 billion).
Under McCall, Europe’s second-biggest discount airline has expanded at more-major airports to appeal to business travelers and families. That’s helped differentiate the company from bigger rival Ryanair Holdings Plc, while sharpening competition with the short-haul units of the region’s three big network carriers.
Lundgren will also be tasked with expanding in Germany after EasyJet last month reached a deal to take over 25 aircraft and slots from defunct Air Berlin Plc. It has likewise expressed an interest in acquiring assets of Alitalia SpA, which has filed for bankruptcy, and defunct U.K. carrier Monarch Airlines.
Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analysts including Daniel Roeska said in a note that Lundgren’s background in travel rather than airlines may indicate that aims to accelerate its expansion into holidays and other ancillary revenue streams.
A biography of Lundgren on TUI’s website says that the executive has worked in the tourism industry since 1986. He became deputy CEO of U.K.-based TUI Travel Plc in 2011 with responsibility for the main package-holiday business, briefly taking on the same title at TUI Group after the merger. Earlier in his career he led the TUI Nordic unit and was a managing director for Britain, Scandinavia and Canada.
The new chief will be paid a salary of 740,000 pounds, with a maximum annual bonus of 200 percent, according to EasyJet.