O’Leary defends Ryanair’s board against criticism

Airline says profits will be at upper end of €650m guidance

Michael O’Leary: Since last year’s agm, Ryanair has beefed up customer service as part of a strategy aimed at attracting more passengers

Michael O’Leary: Since last year’s agm, Ryanair has beefed up customer service as part of a strategy aimed at attracting more passengers

 

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary yesterday defended the airline’s board against criticism at the company’s annual general meeting that long service threatens the independence of some of its non-executive directors.

The airline told investors yesterday that profit for its current financial year, which ends on March 31st, will be at the upper end of the €620 million to €650 million guidance it gave in August, depending on returns during the winter months, when it once again plans to cut prices aggressively to attract more passengers.

‘New blood’

David Bonderman

The questions were sparked by a recent call from proxy group, Pensions & Investment Research Consultants, to opposed the re-election of a number of non-executives, including Mr Bonderman and senior independent James Osborne, who have both served 18 years.

He justified Ryanair’s decision to recruit former deputy chief executive Michael Cawley and outgoing head of finance Howard Millar as independent directors by warning that otherwise its rivals would snap them up.

Salary and bonuses

Answering questions on his own pay, Mr O’Leary confirmed that he received a total of €1.8 million in salary and bonuses. He pointed out that this was less than one-third of what Easyjet chief executive Carolyn McCall received and less than half what International Airlines Group paid its boss, Willie Walsh, despite the fact that Ryanair flies more passengers than either rival.

Since last year’s agm, Ryanair has beefed up customer service as part of a strategy aimed at attracting more passengers, particularly business travellers, to the airline. Following yesterday’s meeting, chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said it is now getting about 4,000 business bookings a day.