On this day, February 14 in the year 1967, one of the entrepreneurs who found wealth in the airline industry was born in Athens, Greece. His name is Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of low-cost airline easyJet. According to forbes.com, his net worth is $1.3 billion in 2019 but dropped off the billionaire’s list in 2020.
Stelios Haji-Ioannou was the son of a wealthy ship-owning couple. After earning an economics degree from the London School of Economics in 1987, he proceeded to obtain a MSc in trade and finance from Cass Business School of the University of London. In 1995 at the age of 28, he established easyJet with the aim of making air travel affordable to the masses.
Easyjet opened for business with inaugural flights from London to Glasgow on the 10th and to Edinburgh on the 15th of November, 1995. The following year, it launched its first international flight to Amsterdam, Netherlands. Since then, it has expanded the number of destinations to Switzerland, France, and Germany. By 2005, it had 100 aircrafts and welcomed on board its 100 millionth passenger. The following year, it made its inaugural flight to New York. By 2009, it became a pan-European airline with more than 50% of its passengers coming outside the United Kingdom.
In 2000, easyJet was floated on the London Stock Exchange. Its acquisition included purchased of GB Airways, 40% stake of Swiss charter airline TEA Basle, and Go Fly. As of October 13, 2017, it has market capitalization of $5.16 billion. Since 2013, the company is part of Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index, an exclusive list of the biggest companies with the highest market capitalization on the London Stock Exchange.
Stelios and his family own 35% of easyJet through the investment company easyGroup. Other businesses under easyGroup are car rental, bus operation, hotel management, cruise shipping, grocery, and online property management.