Michael O’Leary concedes that time is running out to earn 10m share options bonus

Ryanair chief executive, Michael O’Leary, conceded that the time he has left to earn a bonus of 10 million shares in the airline is running low.

Mr O’Leary has 10 million share options that he can cash in at €11.12 if Ryanair’s profit after tax reaches €2 billion in any year up to 2024, or its share price exceeds €21 for a period of 28 days between April 1st, 2021, and March 31st, 2024.

He told analysts on Monday he was optimistic that Ryanair would hit one or both of the targets set out to allow him collect the bonus, but he agreed “that the window of opportunity” was narrowing.

Mr O’Leary took a cut in his basic salary to €250,000 during the pandemic, and earned no cash bonus.

Before Covid he could earn up to €1 million a-year in basic salary and a cash bonus.

“I won’t starve,” he told analysts, but he added that he was Europe’s lowest-paid airline chief executive.


Ryanair says air travel’s recovery is too uncertain for it to issue profit guidance for this year, although Mr O’Leary said he hoped it could be more than €1 billion. “What I hope for and what I get are two different things,” he cautioned.

The airline’s shares were 1.32 per cent down at €13.445 around lunchtime on Monday. They traded as high as €18.19 on February 11th this year and hit a €12.25 low on March 7th.

A quick return to profitability would also accelerate the pace at which Ryanair would restore pilots’ and cabin crews’ pay, according to Mr O’Leary.

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Employees took a 20 per cent paycut during the pandemic. Mr O’Leary said Ryanair had struck deals with some of its unions to restore that over three years, beginning with 10 per cent this year.

Ryanair would then follow that with 6 per cent in its 2023 financial year and 4 per cent in 2024.

However, Mr O’Leary said that if profits topped €1 billion this year, the airline could cut restore 10 per cent this year and next, cutting the restoration period to two years.

It has agreed pay-restoration deals across 40 per cent of its European markets.


The pace at which it is completing these deals depends on how quickly the unions representing pilots and crew themselves move, according to Eddie Wilson, chief executive of Ryanair DAC, the group’s biggest airline.

He added that the company was benefitting from deciding to keep on employees through the pandemic rather than letting them go.

Rival airlines and airports used by the Irish carrier are having problems hiring staff.

Passengers are finding extra-long queues in airports including Dublin as a result of their difficulty hiring security and other staff.

Mr O’Leary highlighted “pinch-points” in Berlin and Dublin, but added that the Irish airport’s owner, DAA, was doing a good job in hiring extra security personnel needed to ease the pressure.


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