Ryanair Group chief executive Michael O'Leary has agreed to extend his contract to 2028, Europe's largest airline said on Wednesday 7 December, in a deal that will also extend a bonus scheme that could earn him close to €100 million.
O'Leary, 61, has repeatedly said in recent years that he had no plans to retire and in September said he hoped to soon reach a deal on extending his contract beyond its expiry in 2024. He has led the airline since 1994.
"The Board are ... pleased that Michael O'Leary has agreed to extend his leadership of the Ryanair Group to July 2028," chairman Stan McCarthy said in a statement. The decision followed "extensive engagement" with large shareholders and proxy advisors.
The extension of the contract and bonus scheme will be subject to shareholder approval, he said.
Under the 2019 options scheme, which was due to lapse in 2024, O'Leary was due to be granted the option of buying 10 million shares at €11.12 per share if he either increased annual profit to €2 billion or if the share price rises to €21 for 28 days.
O'Leary's efforts to reach those targets were knocked off course by the COVID-19 pandemic with the airline's annual profit peaking at €1.45 billion in the year to 31 March 2018. Ryanair has said it hopes to earn a profit of €1 billion-€1.2 billion in the current financial year.
Under the new contract, the expiry date of the 2019 share option scheme has been extended by four years to July 2028 and the target for after-tax profit increased to €2.2 billion, the statement said.
If Ryanair hits the target share price of €21 per share, O'Leary could earn almost €100 million.
Ryanair's shares closed at €12.90 on Wednesday 7 December, well below a record high of €19.39 hit in August 2017.
O'Leary is currently the airline's fifth-largest shareholder with 44.1 million shares, 3.9% of the company. He was granted a significant stake in the 1990s during his early years as chief executive.
Non-Executive Director Appointment
Ryanair on Wednesday 7 December also announced the appointment of former chair of the Irish Aviation Authority Anne Nolan as a non-executive director.