Ryanair seeks pay cuts at Aer Lingus

Ryanair is asking the Aer Lingus to cut the salaries of its Chairman, Colm Barrington and the non-executive directors due to the airline’s ‘stated need to significantly reduce costs’. Ryanair, a 29.8% shareholder in Aer Lingus, has requisitioned two resolutions at the Aer Lingus’ 5 June AGM.

Earlier this year all Aer Lingus Board members voluntarily reduced their fees by 20%, resulting in annual directors’ fees of €36,000 and an annual Chairman’s fee of €140,000 for 2009. However Ryanair is seeking a further reduction to €35,000 for the Chairman and €17,500 for the non-executive directors – being the fee rates in place prior to the IPO of Aer Lingus in 2006. Aer Lingus has indicated that the resolutions will form part of the ordinary business of the AGM as they concern the fixing of the ordinary remuneration of the directors.

While Ryanair’s use of corporate governance remedies may appear commendable, unfortunately their own governance practices leave something to be desired. As at the time of writing, Ryanair has yet to disclose the proxy voting figures from its own September 2008 AGM on its website, as recommended by Combined Code Provision D.2.2. Ryanair is the only Irish company in the ISEQ 20 not to have done so after Kingspan belatedly posted the results of its 2008 AGM in early 2009.

Perhaps Ryanair’s shareholders would appreciate their money being spent on an upgrade of their company’s IR website. An assurance that this year’s Ryanair AGM will  include an advisory vote on directors’ pay would probably not go un-noticed either.

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