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Aviation News Willie Walsh leaves IAG amid pay protest

Willie Walsh leaves IAG amid pay protest

09 SEP 2020 | 292 words

Willie Walsh bowed out Tuesday as chief executive of airline giant IAG amid a protest over executive pay and as the industry struggles with disruption from the coronavirus pandemic.

IAG, which owns British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus, revealed that only 71.6 percent of investors approved the executive remuneration report at the company's annual shareholder meeting.

Walsh's package comprises a bonus of 883,000 (975,000 euros, $1.15 million) and totaled 3.2 million for 2019.

The package -- up five percent on 2018 -- was decided before the coronavirus crisis, which has devastated the airline industry by grounding planes worldwide.

IAG posted a first-half net loss of 3.8 billion euros ($4.5 billion), while British Airways had already warned it could slash up to 12,000 jobs.

Coronavirus "is the worst crisis we have ever faced, far worse than both 9/11 and the financial crash in 2008," Walsh told shareholders.

"We are having to re-calibrate everything we do as we anticipate that it will take until at least 2023 or 2024 for passenger demand to recover to 2019 levels."

Pilots' union BALPA recently criticised "Fat Cat" bonuses, saying they were a "an insult to staff losing jobs and taking pay cuts".

It particularly criticised the proposed 458,000-euro bonus for Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, whose company is shedding 3,000 jobs.

Walsh was due to leave IAG in March but agreed to stay on as Covid-19 swept across the world.

He has spent 15 years with the group, during which time he oversaw the 2011 merger of British Airways with Iberia to form IAG, which then expanded.

He will be replaced by Iberia CEO Luis Gallego, who is to earn a salary of 820,000 plus bonuses.

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