Stelios loses his hold on EasyJet after 26 years

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou founded easyJet in 1995

Sir Stelios can no longer veto critical decisions by the airline's board after his stake falls to 15.3pc.

The EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has lost his hold on the budget airline he started a quarter of a century ago after raising the company £1.2bn of extra cash.

Sir Stelios's blocking stake has been diluted after he chose not to purchase new shares in a rights issue following a takeover swoop by low-cost rival Wizz Air.

The Greek Cypriot billionaire and his family now own 15.3pc of the airline as a result, down from 25.3pc.

Going under the 25pc threshold means that Sir Stelios cannot veto critical decisions by the board that require the support of three-quarters of shareholders.

The dilution marks a watershed moment for the businessman, who founded EasyJet in 1995, aged 28, with his father's £5m loan. The airline came to prominence when Sir Stelios and his staff starred in the second fly-on-the-wall series Airline in 1998.

EasyJet was later floated on the London Stock Exchange, but the magnate retained around a third of the business until relatively recently.