LONDON (Reuters) – British low cost airline easyJet <EZJ.L> said chief financial officer Andrew Findlay plans to leave the company next year, in an announcement made just days after he survived an attempt by the airline’s founder to oust him.
Findlay, who joined easyJet as CFO in 2015, handed in his notice on Tuesday and is expected to stay on for a year until May 2021 under the terms of his contract.
His decision to quit comes as easyJet struggles with zero revenue since the coronavirus pandemic brought air travel to a halt in March, prompting the airline’s founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou to call on management to cancel an order for new planes.
Shareholders threw their weight behind management’s strategy to stick with the Airbus <AIR.PA> order on Friday, supporting Findlay plus easyJet’s chairman, chief executive and another director in a vote forced by Haji-Ioannou.
Shares in easyJet, which had collapsed by over 60% since the coronavirus outbreak swept through Europe three months ago, jumped 18% in morning trade, which analysts said was on hopes that European summer holidays would soon restart.
“The stocks are just reacting to the view that travel is going to open up in peak summer,” Davy analyst Stephen Furlong said.
British Airways-owner IAG <ICAG.L> traded 20% higher, while European holiday company TUI <TUIT.L> was up 35%.
Spain, a major destination for all three companies, said on Monday that foreign tourists can book holidays there from July, while reports say Germany wants to end a travel warning for tourist trips to European countries from June 15.
EasyJet’s CEO Johan Lundgren praised Findlay for his efforts in helping to shore up easyJet’s balance sheet during the coronavirus crisis.
Goodbody analyst Mark Simpson said that easyJet’s next CFO would need to focus on keeping costs down.
“Given the cost profile of easyJet over the last number of years, a change of CFO will likely be welcomed by all,” he said.
(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by James Davey and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)