aviation industry

Ryanair bosses’ pay causes shareholder turbulence

Agence France-Presse

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Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary is to receive a bonus of 458,000 euros for the last financial year – opposed by over a third of the airline's shareholders

More than a third of Ryanair shareholders on Thursday, September 17, opposed pay deals for senior executives, including handing chief executive Michael O’Leary a bonus despite losses caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Nearly two-thirds (65.8%) of shareholders approved the settlements at the airline’s annual general meeting, according to a company statement to the London Stock Exchange.

O’Leary, 59, is to receive a bonus of 458,000 euros ($541,000 £418,000) for the last financial year to the end of March – close to the maximum of 500,000 euros authorized by the group.

As part of his contract, he agreed a 50% pay cut to 500,000 euros over the year. In total, O’Leary’s remuneration will reach 3.5 million euros this year, including shares.

Ryanair’s latest annual report stated that the company’s remuneration committee recommended the bonus after assessing the group’s performance over the whole year.

O’Leary recently decided to reduce his salary by a further 50% to 250,000 euros for the current financial year, given the impact of the health crisis on airlines.

His previous package sparked similar opposition from shareholders in 2019, but the latest comes as the airline industry worldwide is reeling from the coronavirus outbreak.

Ryanair has said it would shed 3,000 jobs or 15% of its workforce, and also told staff to accept pay cuts to avoid redundancies.

The Irish low-cost carrier took advantage of the United Kingdom government’s furlough scheme at the height of the coronavirus outbreak, and a £600-million support loan for large firms.

Ryanair is not the only airline to face the wrath of shareholders on executive pay.

Nearly 30% of shareholders opposed compensation for Willie Walsh, the departing head of IAG, which owns British Airways.

His package includes a £883,000 bonus and totaled £3.2 million for 2019, including salary and pension contributions.

British pilots’ union BALPA has criticized so-called “Fat Cat” bonuses, calling them “an insult to staff losing jobs and taking pay cuts.” – Rappler.com

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