Ryanair (just) sees off revolt over O’Leary’s £90m bonus

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Ryanair has seen off an investor revolt over pay plans that could earn its chief executive Michael O’Leary £90m in bonuses.

The no-frills carrier was warned ahead of its annual general meeting in Ireland that it faced significant opposition to its pay report, which was eventually passed by just 50.5% of the vote.

Shareholders have been left angered on several fronts, including the fact they have seen no dividend payments since 2016 as the company grew to become Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers.

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 06: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Michael O'Leary attends day 3 'Grand National Day' of The Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse on April 6, 2019 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Image: Michael O’Leary has run Ryanair since 1994

Its share price this month has been trading at lows not seen since 2014 as it battles continued industrial unrest and the fallout from delays to the delivery of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which has forced it to curtail its ambitions and cut services.

Ryanair has signalled it will be seeking compensation from the US aircraft manufacturer after the entire fleet was grounded when a second deadly crash forced Boeing to upgrade crucial flight software and make further improvements.

A total of 189 people were killed on an Indonesian Lion Air flight last October before 157 died aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight in March.

There is still no word on when the planes will be cleared to fly again, allowing the commencement of deliveries to Ryanair.

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Mr O’Leary, the Irish Independent reported, told the general meeting that the more efficient aircraft was “critical” for the company and it represented the company’s biggest operational challenge.

The headwinds for Ryanair over the new aircraft delays coincide with a period of wider turbulence for the industry – as stiff competition has brought down fares at a time of higher fuel bills – culminating in some rivals, including WOW, going to the wall.

All resolutions passed at the meeting despite opposition to the re-election of some directors.

A Ryanair spokesman said: “Ryanair is, and will continue, to consult with its shareholders and we will report back to them over the coming year on how the board will adapt its decision-making to reflect their advice and input on all these topics.”


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