City & Corporate: EasyJet in comms shake-up

Air travel FD and Finsbury fight for low-cost airline's financial and corporate work.

City heavyweights FD and Finsbury are preparing for a two-way shoot-out to handle easyJet's retained financial and corporate PR.

The low-cost airline has retained FD since 2003, but is understood to be considering a change in direction after a board-level shake-up and changes to its in-house comms team.

EasyJet has been using Finsbury on a project basis to support media comms around the ongoing court case with founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou over a branding dispute.

It is now thought that Finsbury has been invited to pitch for the retained financial and corporate business, while FD will defend its account.

FD, Finsbury and easyJet's head of comms and public affairs Oliver Aust all declined to comment.

The news comes after a year of changes at the airline, which has seen Carolyn McCall, former boss of Guardian Media Group, take over the CEO role in July.

Long-term head of comms and public affairs at the budget carrier, Toby Nicol, also left last summer to be replaced by Aust, while earlier this month comms manager Samantha Day left for Autoglass after 15 years at the airline.

The easyJet board is locked in a row with Sir Stelios, the carrier's largest shareholder, over the size of its fleet, extent of its expansion plans and the timing of a maiden dividend.

He has threatened to take away the 'easy' brand and said the airline was 'currently being run in a way which is materially detrimental to and inconsistent with the good name, goodwill, reputation and image of easyGroup'.

The court case over brand licence agreement was heard in June and a judgement is expected in September.

Stelios and his easyGroup business handed a retained corporate and financial brief to Citigate Dewe Rogerson in April ahead of the court case.

In July easyJet announced that revenues in the three months to the end of June rose by 5.3 per cent to £759.2m, despite taking a £65m hit from the volcanic ash cloud owing to 7,314 cancelled flights.

The airline expects to make a full-year profit of between £100m and £150m, compared with £43.7m in 2009.

Last month rival cut-price airline Ryanair appointed Edelman to handle its UK and Ireland PR after a competitive tender. Edleman takes over from long-time incumbent Murray Consultants.

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