LOW-COST airline easyJet reported a fall in passenger numbers for March as a late Easter hit demand for flights.
EasyJet said it carried 3.49m passengers last month, 6.8% down on the February figure.
The company also appointed an interim chairman as it seeks to repair the split between its founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, and the rest of the board.
EasyJet said passenger numbers for the year to March 31 increased by 11.5%, with its load factor – how well it filled its planes – up by 1.3% to 84.9%.
The firm said load factor for March was 2.8% lower against 2008, because the Easter holiday period falls in April this year.
The company said chairman Sir Colin Chandler will step down on July 1 with Sir David Michels, currently the board’s senior independent director, serving as interim chairman until a replacement for Sir Colin is found.
BT chairman Sir Michael Rake was also appointed to the board as deputy chairman and will join the firm in the early summer.
He joins amid a row over the speed of easyJet’s expansion plans between Sir Stelios and the rest of the board.
The easyJet founder caused the rift with the board to widen late last year when he refused to back the company’s accounts and said accounting policies adopted by the board were “at odds with current commercial realities” and the general economic environment.
The non-executive director also increased his personal stake in the business to almost 27%. He has pushed for outside non-executive directors to be appointed.
In a statement, he said: “I would like to thank Sir Colin for his leadership of the board and excellent years of service to easyJet.”
Sir Colin, who joined the easyJet board in April 2002, said he was stepping down to spend more time with his family, adding: “I am tremendously proud of what we have achieved at easyJet and am confident in its future success.”