On Friday, EasyJet, a budget airline, turned to a veteran of the Swedish travel industry to replace Carolyn McCall, the outgoing chief executive.
The FTSE 100 company is hiring Johan Lundgren to lead the business after McCall accepted the top job at broadcaster ITV during the summer following a seven-year stint at the airline company.
McCall will step down as chief at the end of November. However, she will stay with the company until the end of 2017 to help Lundgren bed in. Lundgren has 30 years of experience in the travel sector including 12 at tour TUI, a tour operator, where he rose to deputy chief executive, running airlines within the group and was once perceived to be a successor to boss Peter Long.
He decided to leave the company in 2015 after Fritz Joussen was offered the top job, with Lundgren unwilling to wait for another shot. He is assumed to have had an 18-month leave period before taking up another role, though he has been performing consulting work.
Lundgren joins easyJet on a package that includes a basic £740,000 salary, an annual bonus amounting to a maximum of £1.48 million and a long-term share incentive plan that is worth up to £2.1 million.
Lundgren joins the cockpit as the aviation industry of the United Kingdom remains in the dark regarding the nature of its future relationship with the European Union after Brexit, which could possibly disrupt trading. Also in the in-tray of Sweden— as well as working with Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the airline’s seldom volcanic founder and major shareholder— will be supervising the integration of parts of the failed Air Berlin business that was recently snapped up by the budget flyer. The airline is also looking to buy bits of the insolvent airline Alitalia of Italy, and Monarch Airlines, which collapsed in last October.
Lundgren, who studied music in Britain, America, and Sweden prior to entering the travel industry, stated that it was an “exciting time” to be joining the business, continuing that: “I have flown with and been a fan of easyJet and its wonderful people for many years.”
Chairman John Barton dubbed him as a “customer-centric, charismatic and successful leader”. Aviation expert John Strickland of JLS Consulting tweeted that the appointment was a “surprise for many perhaps.”
The shares of easyJet rose up 9p to 1279p.