Ryanair has restored the pay of its CEO, Michael O'Leary, to pre-pandemic levels. His pay and bonuses now total €975,000, according to the company's annual report.
During the pandemic when airlines all but stopped operating, O'Leary's salary was reduced. However, pilots had to give up 20% of their salaries in light of the blow that Covid-19 dealt to the travel sector.
Yet as pilots work under deteriorating conditions as the company struggles with staff shortages, the news of the return to normal for O'Leary has been described as "a slap in the face for the pilots" by the Flemish union ACV Puls.
A 'scandalous' decision
During the 2021 fiscal year, O'Leary earned approximately €975,000 – 290% more than the previous year. In 2020, O'Leary didn't receive a bonus either, which partly explains the difference in salary. However, pilot salaries still trail behind what they were prior to the pandemic.
"There is enough money to bring pilot salaries back to pre-pandemic levels. It is simply a political decision, a choice made by Ryanair. It's scandalous," said Hans Elsen, secretary of the union ACV Puls in Le Soir.
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According to ACV Puls, Ryanair has suggested that pilot salaries will not return to pre-pandemic levels before 2027. "This is an absolutely absurd proposal, with which the Belgian pilots obviously do not agree," Elsen said.