| 4.6°C Dublin

Aer Lingus chief's pay deal flies past O'Leary's

Mueller earned €1.24m for running the smaller airline

AER Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller has overtaken Michael O'Leary when it comes to pay, even though he runs the smaller airline.

Mr Mueller was paid €1.24m last year, according to the Aer Lingus annual report published yesterday. His pay is up 10pc compared to 2010. Revenue was up 6pc in the same period. Passenger numbers were up 1.8pc to over 9.5 million last year.

The massive pay packet is made up of salary of €475,000 and a €611,000 performance bonus. He also receives a pension contribution of €119,000.

Mr Muller's pay packet is more than the €1.1m pay of Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary in 2010, the latest figures available for the bigger airline. Mr O'Leary has also made a fortune from share options.

Ryanair has a market capitalisation of €6.5bn compared to €500m for Aer Lingus.

Aer Lingus chairman Colm Barrington was paid €126,000. Director fees for most directors, including businessman Leslie Buckley and trade unionist David Begg, are set at €32,000 a year, according to the annual report.

Net profit at Aer Lingus for the year rose 65pc to €71.2m.

That rise was in part down to exceptional items including a one-off €21m gain booked when the company handed back a leasehold interest in its Dublin headquarters.

Controversial

Aer Lingus is no longer state controlled, but Mr Mueller's pay is sure to prove controversial because the Government still holds a 25pc share in the business.

That stake is set to be sold off as part of the privatisation target set by the bailout providers.

Ryanair owns 29.8pc of Aer Lingus.

In his chairman's statement, Mr Barrington said he believed Ryanair's stake in Aer Lingus was damaging to the company.

"Ryanair's actions during the year, including the issuing of unsuccessful High Court proceedings in relation to our annual general meeting, disruptive behaviour at our annual general meeting and investor day. . . represent a continuing attempt to distract Aer Lingus and are not in the best interests of all shareholders," he said.

Ryanair said yesterday that it bought back 15 million of its own shares due for cancellation at €4.45 each, in line with a stated plan to buy back €200m of shares.

Irish Independent