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EasyJet shareholders approve huge Airbus order

Shareholders in British no-frills airline EasyJet voted in favour of its deal to buy 135 Airbus single-aisle A320 passenger planes, defying objections from founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou.AFP/File

Shareholders in British no-frills airline EasyJet on Thursday voted in favour of its deal to buy 135 Airbus single-aisle A320 passenger planes, defying objections from founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

The carrier said in a statement that 57.3 percent of shareholder votes cast at a general meeting backed the multi-billion-pound order, despite opposition from Haji-Ioannou whose family controls almost 37 percent of EasyJet.

About 85 percent of the company's shareholders cast their votes at the meeting at its headquarters in Luton, north of London.

However, just 43 percent of those votes were cast against the plans to expand the fleet. That was short of the 50-percent level needed in order to overturn the plans.

"The vote in favour of our new fleet arrangements will allow easyJet to continue its successful strategy of modest, profitable growth and sustainable returns for our shareholders," said Chairman John Barton in the statement.

Following the vote, Airbus confirmed that EasyJet had firmed up the purchase of the 135 Airbus A320 family aircraft.

John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer-Customers at Airbus said in a statement the company was "delighted".

However earlier this month, Haji-Ioannou had written to shareholders, arguing that the Airbus order was a "bad deal" owing to the high cost.

Back in June, EasyJet had unveiled the order for 35 current generation A320 planes for delivery between 2015 and 2017 and 100 new generation A320neo aircraft from 2017 until 2022.

The airline said at the time it had negotiated "very substantial" discounts on the combined list price of $11.9 billion (8.9 billion euros). Industry sources told AFP that EasyJet may end up paying only half the amount.

There is also an option to buy a further 100 Airbus planes as part of the deal.