Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou was born on 14 February 1967 in Athens, Greece. He is the scion of a wealthy ship owning family but is best known for founding the low-cost airline easyJet and the Stelmar shipping line with start-up funds provided by his father. easyJet’s foundation in 1995 marked the beginning of a series of ventures marketed under the “easy” brand, managed by easyGroup and chaired by Haji-Ioannou.
Stelios graduated from Rainham Mark Grammar School and the London School of Economics. He then went on to study for an MSc in Shipping, Trade & Finance at Cass Business School, in London. He started by founding the shipping company Stelmar in 1992 with a large loan from his father. With the success of the company he looked at starting an airline; after a visit to the United States, inspired by Ryanair and Southwest and Virgin Atlantic he started easyJet, a “budget” airline in 1995 again with an investment by his family.
The airline was an enormous success due to the availability of second-hand aircraft and cheap aviation fuel, easyJet being one of the major leaders in the European cheap flights’ boom of the 1990s. Stelios expanded his interests with the formation of the easyGroup in 1998. Through easyGroup he owns or part-owns a range of companies, covering a range of activities such as internet cafés, credit card finance, car rental, cinemas, buses, and hotels.
“Successes are always unique and hard to copy.
The fact that easyJet became a success is due to a mixture of talent and luck.”
Stelios’ charitable foundation, the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation, supports education, as well as entrepreneurial and environmental initiatives through the provision of funding and advice in the UK, Greece, and Cyprus. It also sponsors annual awards with cash prizes to entrepreneurs in the UK, Greece, and Cyprus.
Stelios lives in Monaco, London, and Athens.