easyJet (U2, London Luton) is undergoing a capital restructure review amid growing market speculation that it is planning a GBP500m pounds (USD696.2 million) equity raise that could spell the end of founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou's grip on the company, reports The Telegraph.

“easyJet will review its liquidity position on a regular basis and, as part of the capital structure review, assess all further funding opportunities," a company spokesperson said.

The low-cost carrier’s debts have doubled to GBP4.4 billion (USD6.1 billion) during the current health crisis, and it needs to repay a GBP300 million (USD417.8 million) UK state-backed COVID-19 loan this autumn.

New Group Chief Financial Officer Kenton Jarvis, who joined easyJet in February after 17 years at travel giant TUI Group, is reportedly considering several options as part of the capital structure review. This could include tapping shareholders for money or selling off aircraft to pay down debt. easyJet has raised billions of pounds to ensure it has sufficient cash reserves to get through the leaner winter months, but analysts expect Jarvis to attack the airline’s debt pile in the autumn.

Haji-Ioannou has previously signalled he would not participate in an equity raise. The billionaire, who quit the airline’s board in 2010, sought to oust board members last year in a row over a GBP4.5 billion (USD6.2 billion) order of Airbus aircraft. He owns just over 25% of the company, according to figures compiled by Bloomberg. If easyJet were to raise money from shareholders, he risks falling below this figure – a level at which he could no longer unilaterally block special resolutions.

HSBC analyst Andrew Lobbenberg said easyJet’s silence on the capital structure review fueled the debate amongst investors if the company would need to raise more equity. Analysts from Berenberg estimated that raising GBP500 million in equity could be beneficial if “credit markets tighten”.