Peter Bellew: who is EasyJet COO, why has he stepped down, replacement - and what has Johan Lundgren said?

He is planning to “pursue other business opportunities” as EasyJet continues to cancel flights

EasyJet’s chief operating officer Peter Bellew has resigned amid growing anger over flight disruption.

The airline has been one of the worst hit for cancellations in recent months, and has axed thousands of flights, including many on the day they were due to depart.

Bellew, who joined easyJet from Ryanair two-and-a-half years ago, resigned to “pursue other business opportunities”, according to the Luton-based carrier.

Here is everything you need to know.

What has EasyJet said?

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “I would like to thank Peter for his hard work and wish him well.

“Everyone at EasyJet remains absolutely focused on delivering a safe and reliable operation this summer.”

The airline’s statement continued: “EasyJet remains absolutely focused on our daily operation and continues to monitor this very closely, having taken pre-emptive action to build further resilience for the summer due to the current operating environment.

“The airline continues to operate up to 1,700 flights each day and carry up to 250,000 passengers.”

(Photo: MOHD RASFAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Why has he resigned?

Bellew is an Irish businessman who joined low-cost carrier Ryanair as chief operating officer in 2017, before leaving the airline in 2019 to join rival EasyJet. He has been in the tourism and aviation industry for over 30 years.

The aviation sector is struggling to cope with the rising demand for travel amid staff shortages and difficulties obtaining security clearance for new recruits.

Trade union Unite last month claimed there was a “lack of leadership” within easyJet, and Bellew should be “taking control of this situation”.

EasyJet announced last month it would scrap thousands of summer flights in a bid to avoid last-minute cancellations.

The move was also in response to caps introduced by Gatwick and Amsterdam Schiphol airports.

In May, the carrier expected its capacity to be at around 97% of 2019 levels between July and September, but that has been reduced to 90%.

In March 2022, EasyJet apologised to its staff following the release of a "staff motivation" video by Bellew during the Covid-19 pandemic, in which he plagiarised a speech made by Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.

Bellew apologised to the staff and the Taoiseach and stated he would write all of his own speeches in future.

In July 2020, the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) launched a vote of no confidence against Bellew, citing his poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic, bypassing pilot unions and attempting to make 727 UK pilot redundancies with no business justification as reasons for the vote.

The result came back with an astonishing 99.9% "no confidence", with over 2000 members having responded.

Who will replace Bellew?

EasyJet has appointed David Morgan – who has been with the airline since 2016 – as interim chief operations officer.

Lundgren said: “I am pleased that operations will be in the very capable hands of David Morgan who can move seamlessly into this role having previously led the operation, as interim chief operating officer, throughout 2019.

“David has significant experience and deep knowledge of the business and operation, and will provide strong leadership for the airline this summer.”