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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 June 2006, 00:03 GMT 01:03 UK
Sir Stelios surprised by honour
Easyjet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou

The founder of one of the first budget airlines has been knighted by the Queen for his business enterprise.

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, 39, founded Luton-based Easyjet 11 years ago and expanded into hotels, cruises, car rental and many other activities.

He said receiving a knighthood was "a joy" and "a great honour".

"It came as a surprise and I'm not sure at this stage I deserve an honour which is usually reserved for those with a lifetime of business achievement."

Endorsement

Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who prefers to be known by his first name, was born in Greece and studied at the London School of Economics and City University Business School.

His first company Stelmar Shipping was founded when he was 25 years old but he made his name as head of the "easy" group.

"On reflection, I am always pleasantly surprised when ordinary members of the public stop me in the street to say 'thank you', I guess for making travel and other goods and services available to them.

"To get the same endorsement now from the top echelons of British society is a joy to me and a great reward for the efforts that I have made," he said.


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