O'Leary's wingman Cawley to step down from Ryanair in 2014
THE deputy chief executive of Ryanair, Michael Cawley, is to step down in March next year to pursue other opportunities in what will be most significant executive departure from the company yet.
Cork native Mr Cawley, second in command of the carrier, has been with Ryanair since 1997 and will maintain his link with the company by joining the board as a non-executive director from next May. The accountant will also pursue a number of other non-executive board positions, according to a statement.
Ryanair shares increased yesterday in the wake of the announcement, closing up 4.15pc to €7.41.
In a statement, Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary paid tribute to Mr Cawley.
"I am grateful to Michael for his enormous contribution to the successful growth and development of Ryanair over the past 17 years," the Ryanair chief said.
"I am pleased that he has given us such a long notice period so that he can assist his successor over a substantive handover period."
Mr Cawley has been deputy chief executive and chief operating officer since January 2003, and had previously served as chief financial officer and commercial director since February 1997. He was involved in the company's flotation on the Dublin and Nasdaq Stock Exchanges later that year and on the London Stock Exchange in June 1998.
He will step down from his full-time executive role from the end of March next year, with the airline stating that he wanted to pursue other interests, including a number of non-executive board positions.
The company said that Mr Cawley, who is responsible for the airline's commercial strategy as well as the development of new route and airport relationships, will use the 10 months to ensure a "smooth handover to his successor."
Mr Cawley graduated from UCC in 1975 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant, having worked with Coopers and Lybrand for three years.
He also worked as a lecturer in accounting and auditing in the faculty of commerce in UCC.
Prior to joining Ryanair, Mr Cawley was the Finance Director of the Gowan Group, one of Ireland's largest private companies.
The company will now begin an extensive process to identify a replacement for Mr O'Leary's key wing man as the airline continues to enjoy rising profits.
In May the airline reported record annual profits of €569m in the 12 months to the end of March – a 13pc increase on the previous year.
Its revenue last year also jumped by 13pc, to €4.88bn, and the company said that it expects to generate profits of between €570m and €600m in the current financial year.