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Dublin: 4 °C Saturday 19 January, 2019

Sorry, Michael O'Leary - you're a long way off being the best-paid Irish airline boss

Qantas’s Tallaght-raised chief Alan Joyce saw his pay package nearly double to €16.5m.

Image: Jan Woitas/DPA/PA Images

THE PAY PACKAGE for the Irish CEO of Qantas nearly doubled in the company’s latest financial year – catapulting him to become one of the world’s best-paid airline bosses.

The Australian airline’s latest annual report shows that Tallaght-born Alan Joyce was paid AU$24.6 million (€16.5 million) in the 12 months to the end of 30 June 2017, a 90% increase on what he earned the year before.

Joyce is now the best-paid airline executive in the Asia-Pacific region. His pay package dwarfs that of Europe’s top-earning airline chief, Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary, who received €3.26 million last year.

Meanwhile, Dublin-born IAG chief executive Willie Walsh, whose airline group includes both British Airways and Aer Lingus, earned just over €3 million in 2016, down from around €8.9 million the previous year.

Under Joyce, Qantas cut thousands of jobs, retired older planes and dropped unprofitable routes in an effort to reverse losses. In August, the airline reported its second-highest annual profit on record, AU$1.53 billion.

In 2014, Joyce was awarded AU$4 million of the Qantas’s shares as part of a long-term incentive scheme. He would only receive the shares if he managed to successfully pull off a three-year turnaround plan.

Since then, Qantas’s shares have quadruped with the value of Joyce’s stake swelling to AU$18.4 million.

“There is no question that these pay outcomes are high. That’s because they reflect the company’s exceptional performance,” Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford said in a statement.

“For a business that was facing an uncertain future three years ago, and was in no position to pay bonuses to any of its people, the fundamentals that underpin today’s pay disclosures show how far we have come.”

8755307735_58dab2f5f9_o Qantas CEO Alan Joyce Source: Flickr

World’s longest flights

Last month, Alan Joyce unveiled an ambitious plan to launch the world’s longest non-stop flights, from Australia’s eastern seaboard to Europe, as part of an undertaking dubbed ‘Project Sunrise’.

“Qantas will challenge both Airbus and Boeing to deliver an aircraft capable of regularly flying direct services like Sydney to London, Brisbane to Paris, Melbourne to New York non-stop with a full payload by 2022,” he said at the time.

He said the non-stop flights would take up to four hours off the journey from Sydney to London, which is now just over 24 hours.

Born in Tallaght, Alan Joyce started his aviation career at Aer Lingus. He moved to Australia in the mid-90s, working for now-defunct carrier Ansett.

He served as founding chief executive of low-cost airline Jetstar from 2003 to 2008, which was when he joined Qantas as CEO and group managing director.

Joyce is considered one of the world’s most influential gay business leaders, featuring in the ‘Top 100 leading LGBT executives’ list compiled by the Financial Times and business group OUTstanding.

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Written by Conor McMahon and posted on

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