International Airlines Group chief Willie Walsh nets €8.8m in pay

Willie Walsh, the chief executive of Aer Lingus’ parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), took home €8.8m in salary and benefits last year.

International Airlines Group chief Willie Walsh nets €8.8m in pay

Mr Walsh earned €1.16m in base salary and enjoyed benefits of €7.7m. This included a long-term incentive payment worth €5.5m.

An annual incentive award of €1.8m was also made to the former Aer Lingus chief executive, while pension benefits came to €293,000.

The figures, contained in IAG’s annual accounts, show Mr Walsh’s remuneration increased by close to €1m in 2015, compared with the previous year.

The group’s profits have surged to €2.33bn, as oil prices plummeted and revenues totalled €22.86bn. With the value of the dollar rising, the group didn’t see the full benefits of the dramatically lower fuel prices, however, said Mr Walsh.

“Last year was not without its challenges. 2015 was a year of extreme, and unprecedented, volatility, in both the oil and currency markets. The oil price declined from a peak of around $100 a barrel, in 2014, to recent lows of around $30.

“However, sharp rises in the value of the US dollar — the currency we use to buy our fuel — meant that we realised less benefit than many expected, and, with volatility likely to remain, we continue to hedge our fuel purchases to manage the uncertainty,” Mr Walsh said.

IAG, which owns British Airways, Iberia, and low-cost Spanish airline, Vueling, acquired Aer Lingus in 2015, after a protracted takeover process, which culminated in a €1.4bn deal last August. The Irish carrier returned an operating profit of €124m in 2015; up more than 72% on its performance in 2014. Aer Lingus’ revenues climbed 10.4%, to €1.71bn, during 2015, with its earnings also increasing substantially.

Aer Lingus chief executive, Stephen Kavanagh, said the airline will continue to improve its short-haul performance this year, with targeted passenger growth, retail success, and aggressive cost-management.

The Aer Lingus chief signalled the airline’s intent to improve its competitiveness on fares, too, adding that it hopes to close “the cost gap” with its main competitor.

IAG said Aer Lingus’ Dublin base is fed by a strong short-haul network and highlighted the benefit of US pre-clearance in the transatlantic market.

According to Mr Walsh, the group also remains on the lookout for further suitable acquisitions.

IAG also paid its first dividend, of €0.20, since the group was formed in 2011.

“Last year, IAG comfortably exceeded its original 2015 targets and committed to new goals”.

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