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Published on Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Willie Walsh walks away with millions despite shareholder revolt


IAG's outgoing Chief Executive has left the airline with his final year's earnings of £3.2 million untouched, despite misgivings among the Group's shareholders.

Around 20% of shareholders voted against Willie Walsh's pay packet, which included a £833,000 bonus.

Willie, who retired immediately after yesterday's AGM, 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.

IAG, which owns British Airways and Iberia, said it was 'disappointed' that only 71% of shareholders had voted in favour of the Group's remuneration report. It said 'the board will continue to engage with shareholders to fully understand their concerns'.

In June, MPs branded BA a 'national disgrace' over its plans to axe 12,000 jobs after receiving government-backed loans.

Willie, aged 58, was due to retire in March but delayed his retirement due to Covid-19. He was replaced yesterday by Iberia Chief Executive Luis Gallego.

Commenting on his new role, Luis said: "It's an honour to become IAG's Chief Executive, following in Willie's footsteps and building on all that he has achieved in the past nine years.

"This is a hugely difficult time for our industry. Not only do we face the immediate challenge of Covid but we must ensure that IAG is strong and resilient when it emerges from the crisis.

"The Group was in good shape before Covid with a history of strong profitable growth. We have a portfolio of world class brands, acquired through selective M&A, in which we have invested effectively for the benefit of our customers while keeping costs under control.

"My goal is to ensure that IAG adapts to the 'new normal' in aviation and builds on its strengths to secure a strong future for the Group, our customers, shareholders and employees".

Before becoming Iberia Chief Executive in March 2013 he launched Iberia Express, having previously founded low-cost airline Clickair, which merged with Vueling in 2009, when Luis took over as CEO.

He and his family have relocated to London as he takes up his new role at IAG.


By Linsey McNeill, Editor (UK)

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