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Thursday, 9 May, 2002, 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK
Easyjet blasts Go partner
Go boss Barbara Cassani with Go logo
Easyjet is a no-go area for Barbara Cassani
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By Quentin Sommerville
BBC Business Today
Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the chairman of Easyjet, has dismissed Go chief Barbara Cassani's opposition to the 400m merger of the two budget airlines, saying the business woman of the year was allowing "emotions and ego to cloud her judgement".

A week ago, no-frills carrier Easyjet proposed to take over its smaller rival, which last year was bought by its management from parent company British Airways. The deal would create a budget airline to rival Europe's largest, Ryanair.

Easyjet chief executive Ray Webster
Easyjet chief executive Ray Webster says he offered Ms Cassani a job
In an exclusive interview with the BBC's Business Today programme, Mr Haji-Ioannou said Ms Cassani would not be allowed to stand in the way of a deal being completed.

"No company is ever a one-man show or a one-woman show - it's always a team effort, it's always been a combination of people that made Easyjet the success it is and I'm sure Barbara has been instrumental in making Go the success it is today; but she's not alone," Mr Haji-Ioannou said.

Cassani denies job offer

Earlier, Ms Cassani had denied suggestions by Easyjet's chief executive Ray Webster that he had offered her a job.

A statement issued on her behalf stated, "Barbara Cassani has never been offered a role at Easyjet as part of a merged business with Go."

"She does not want to be part of the combined business in any capacity and at no stage has she stated otherwise. Should the deal with Easyjet proceed, it is her intention to leave the business on completion of the deal."

In an increasingly acrimonious exchange, the Easyjet chairman denied her version of events, and said he had offered Ms Cassani the number two job to Ray Webster, with the understanding she could take the chief executive's position when he retired.

"I first met Barbara with Ray (Webster) - the three of us - on 4 March over dinner. It was the first time we sat down and said this may happen. I said I believe there is a job for you in the combined entity, I believe you could be number two to Ray, because Ray is the chief executive of the acquiring entity, the bigger company, the more profitable company.

"He's older and with all due respect, he's more experienced in the airline sector."

A spokesman for Go declined to comment.

The Easyjet chairman added that he didn't know when the merger deal would be completed. "I don't know, it's too early too tell... it's not a done deal," he said.

The full interview with Stelios Haji-Ioannou will be broadcast on Business Today on BBC News 24 at 2030 UK time on Thursday evening.

Stelios Haji-Ioannou, Chairman of Easyjet
"No company is ever... a one-woman show"
See also:

08 May 02 | Business
Easyjet moves to buy BA's German arm
24 Apr 02 | Business
Go founder named high flyer
05 May 02 | Business
Easyjet founder 'to sell shares'
03 May 02 | Business
Easyjet in talks to buy rival Go
18 Apr 02 | Business
Easyjet's flamboyant flyer
18 Apr 02 | Business
Easyjet chairman resigns
09 Apr 02 | Business
Easyjet falls back to earth
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