Boss of British Airways owner lands £3.2m pay package despite falling profits

International Airlines Group’s outgoing boss Willie Walsh saw his pay jump to £3.2 million last year – despite tumbling profits at the British Airways owner – and stands to retire with millions due in share bonuses.

The group’s annual report showed Mr Walsh enjoyed the 5.5% pay hike, up from £3.03 million in 2018, as he landed an £883,000 annual bonus and £1.2 million in shares under a long-term incentive scheme.

Its long-serving boss also stands to pick up a potential 1.1 million shares worth £5.2 million under previously awarded long-term bonus schemes over the next four years, if performance targets are met.

A further 258,910 deferred shares worth around £1.1 million are due in annual payouts due between this month and March 2022.

This is on top of £288,000 for pay and benefits for the first three months of 2020 alone before he steps down on March 26, while he is also eligible for a proportion of the 2020 annual bonus – worth up to £425,000.

Details of his pay perks come just a week after IAG posted a 33.6% plunge in operating profits to £2.6 billion for 2019.

It also warned that earnings so far in the new financial year have been hit by weaker demand as a result of coronavirus, followed by news on Monday that it was cancelling more than 400 flights due to the outbreak.

Mr Walsh is retiring after a 15-year career with the firm, having orchestrated the creation of International Airlines Group (IAG) through the merger of British Airways and Spanish carrier Iberia.

While he will step down from the role and board of IAG this month, he does not officially retire until June 30.

The annual report shows that Mr Walsh earns 72 times the average IAG employee, despite not taking a basic annual salary increase since 2014.

His successor, Luis Gallego, will receive a base salary of £820,000 versus Mr Walsh’s £850,000, as well as possible cash and share bonuses worth up to £3.3 million a year.