So far, Mr Collier has only drawn down 20% of his bonus. But last night, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar admitted the Government was powerless to prevent the remaining 80% from ultimately being paid.
“There is no legally binding mechanism whereby we can order the payment not to be made,” said a spokesman for the minister.
Even though Mr Collier took a 12% cut in his basic salary in 2010, down to €308,500, his total package was still worth €612,500 — up from €568,000 on the previous year.
Yesterday, the DAA said only €21,900 in performance-related bonuses was paid to Mr Collier last year, with the rest deferred to reflect current Government policy that bonuses should not be paid at this time.
Mr Varadkar has said he “doesn’t intend to let the matter drop”: “The minister is aware that the payment of this has been deferred, but it is the Government’s clear policy that no performance- related payments should be made in respect of 2010. All of the Government’s agencies would be expected to comply with this.”
SIPTU aviation sector organiser Dermot O’Loughlin described Mr Collier’s remuneration package as “disgraceful” and said “it will not do anything to help industrial relations at the DAA”. “This is an increase of almost 8% on his 2009 remuneration package. At a time when we have lost 400 staff and our members have taken pay reductions in the order of 12%, the information about the chief executive’s earnings has deeply angered workers at the DAA,” said Mr O’Loughlin.
Mr Collier is not the only semi-state CEO who has seen his overall pay package increase to compensate for a cut to basic salary.
In his report on state assets earlier this year, economist Colm McCarthy pointed to other cases where this was happening.
In those cases, “a reduction in the basic salary has been more than compensated by an increase in other elements of the overall remuneration package”, the report stated.
The report cited ESB chief executive Padraig McManus, who took a €25,600 cut in basic salary in 2009 but saw his overall package that year increase from €654,000 to €752,500. Similarly, Bord Gáis chief executive John Mullins took an €18,800 basic salary cut in 2009 but saw his overall package rise from €361,000 to €394,000.
Ryanair last night said “the DAA is out of touch with reality”.
“The increase in Mr Collier’s pay package from €568,000 last year to €612,000 this year is extraordinary given the woeful performance of the three DAA airports and the decline in DAA profits when adjusted for exceptionals. The fact that this contains over €100,000 in bonus payments and an extraordinary €182,000 in pension contributions (some 60% of Mr Collier’s basic pay) shows yet again that the board of the DAA is out of touch with reality,” said a spokesman.
According to the DAA, the bonuses were awarded as it reported a return to profit last year, helped by cost-cutting measures, after losing more than €13m in 2009.
The DAA said its passenger numbers in Dublin, Shannon and Cork fell by 13% to 22.6 million last year.