Aviation boss paid bonuses of €2,000 each to half his staff in 2010
THE Commission for Aviation Regulation paid bonuses to nearly half of its 18 staff in 2010.
Newly published accounts for the CAR's 2010 financial year show that bonuses of €2,000 each were paid to eight members of the agency's team.
Cathal Guiomard, the commissioner for aviation regulation, last night defended the payment of €16,000 worth of bonuses to his staff.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Guiomard said he sanctioned the payments for what he described as "exceptional" work undertaken by his staff in making some of the office's functions available via its website. People can now make complaints regarding airlines online, for instance, while travel trade licensing can also be undertaken over the internet.
Mr Guiomard said the process, which began in 2008, was completed early last year and that it was a "very legitimate improvement" in terms of the website's previous capabilities.
Employees had carried out duties "over and above" their normal workload and received the payments in 2011, he said.
The commissioner added that rather than making payments to those staff members involved "in stages", he decided to pay a single sum to each of them.
"This was a one-off payment," he added. "The IT project started when times were very different. By the time it finished, the choice for me was to do nothing or make an acknowledgement."
Mr Guiomard, who was paid a basic salary of €181,286 in 2010, said there was no limit to what he could pay in bonuses under the so-called 'Commissioner Awards'. However, he noted that the CAR's accounts are audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
The CAR is slated to be merged with the Irish Aviation Authority as part of the Government's efforts to reduce the number of quangos.
The commission sets passenger charge levels at Dublin Airport and has frequently been the subject of strong criticism, particularly from Ryanair.