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€120,000 ‘golden parachute’ for MD of Donegal Airport

Ex-gratia payment made to former chief Anne Bonner

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Donegal Airport’s single biggest shareholder is state agency Údarás na Gaeltachta, which controls about 40pc of the business

Donegal Airport’s single biggest shareholder is state agency Údarás na Gaeltachta, which controls about 40pc of the business

Donegal Airport’s single biggest shareholder is state agency Údarás na Gaeltachta, which controls about 40pc of the business

Donegal Airport – the country’s smallest airport with scheduled services – handed a €120,000 golden parachute to its managing director last year as she retired, even as the company received €183,000 in temporary Covid wage subsidy payments to help meet staff costs.

The €120,000 termination payment to Anne Bonner is revealed in the latest set of accounts for the company behind the airport, which is almost entirely reliant for its survival on grants and income from a government-funded public service obligation route operated between Donegal and Dublin.

It has stated in its accounts that its future is a growing concern as it is dependent on continuing financial support from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

The airport’s single biggest shareholder is state agency Údarás na Gaeltachta, which controls about 40pc of the business. The remainder is owned by private Donegal-based individuals.

Ms Bonner had been with Donegal Airport since 2002 and was managing director for the past 14 years. The company behind the airport confirmed yesterday that Ms Bonner received an ex-gratia payment of €120,000 in respect of her service.

“The ex-gratia payment was made in recognition of many years of diligent and loyal service to the company and stakeholders by the retiring CEO,” said the airport in a statement to the Irish Independent. “The full ex-gratia payment was made subject to taxation as per the Finance Acts.”

It said the payment was approved by the company’s board of directors – which include a representative of Donegal County Council – and the nomination and remuneration committee, “having taken professional advice”.

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“There is no connection between Covid wage subsidies and the ex-gratia termination payment to the retiring CEO,” it added. “The Covid subsidies and supports relate to company employees.”

In 2020, the airport company employed 20 full-time staff, seven part-time permanent staff and two directors.

Excluding payments to directors, it paid wages of €814,000 to staff last year, down from €845,000 in 2019 when it had two additional full-time employees.

The accounts note that the airport received almost €184,000 in temporary Covid wage subsidy supports in 2020. That meant that despite paying the €120,000 termination payment to Ms Bonner, the airport’s overall staff costs were still lower than in 2019, when they amounted to just over €1m.

Ms Bonner was also paid a basic salary of €51,000 last year, as well as €12,000 in pension contributions.

Apart from the supports it received under the Covid wage subsidy scheme, the airport also received substantial additional grant funding totalling hundreds of thousands of euro from the Department of Transport and Donegal County Council last year.

 It included €580,000 from the Department under its 2015-2020 Regional Airports Programme to cover operational expenditure.



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