Michael O'Leary gave up €1m bonus after Ryanair pilot-rostering failure

By Gordon Deegan

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary lost out on almost €1m in bonus pay last year after volunteering to waive all of his performance bonuses as a result of the pilot-rostering failure at the airline.

Mr O’Leary’s decision to forsake his bonus came in spite of record revenues of €7.15bn, profits of €1.45bn and passenger numbers of 130m at the airline in 2017/18.

The decision by Mr O'Leary (pictured) to waive all performance bonuses is revealed in the just-published Ryanair annual report for 2017/18.

Mr O’Leary received a bonus payment of €950,000 in 2016/17 and as part of his deal with the airline, Mr O’Leary is eligible for a performance bonus of up to 100% of salary dependent upon the achievement of certain financial and personal targets.

The decision not to take the bonus resulted in Mr O’Leary’s overall pay package decreasing by 29% going from €3.25m to €2.30m last year - the €2.3m pay package works out at €6,301 every day for the outspoken CEO.

Mr O’Leary’s pay in 2017/18 was made up of €1.058m in basic pay and €1.25m in share-based payments.

The company does not provide Mr O’Leary with any pension contributions or other benefits, which the annual report states “is in keeping with the low cost ethos of the airline”.

In October 2014, Mr O’Leary signed a five-year contract which commits him to the company until September 2019. This contract replaced a rolling 12-month arrangement under which Michael O’Leary worked as CEO of the airline since 1994.

Mr O'Leary's 3.9% share in the €16.2bn airline is worth about €631.8m.

In his report, Mr O’Leary refers to the “systematic failure in our pilot rostering function”.

He said that the failure led to the cancellation of 2,000 of the 130,000 flights scheduled in September and October.

In the report, Mr O’Leary said: “It was a planning failure for which we sincerely apologise, especially to customers whose flights were delayed or cancelled.”

On the airline’s response to the failure, Mr O’Leary said: “We replaced the entire rostering management team, we doubled the headcount in the department and we invested heavily in new management in our Operations department.”

In his report, Mr O’Leary also refers to the current dispute with pilots here, but not in name.

He said that the airline has reached recognition agreements with pilot unions in Italy and the UK, and cabin crew unions in Italy, Germany and the UK.

He says: “Progress is slower in other, smaller, markets where some unions have made unreasonable demands that would damage our low fare model. We hope to conclude more recognition agreements shortly but cannot rule out occasional industrial action which may occur in Summer 2018 as we will not compromise either our low fare model or our efficiency.”

Mr O’Leary confirmed that last year Ryanair created 1,500 new jobs as headcount grew to over 14,500.

Last year, pay to Ryanair’s top eight executives totalled €9.7m.

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