O’Leary to focus on the big picture at Ryanair


O’Leary to focus on the big picture at Ryanair

Veteran boss in group CEO move

A Ryanair plane
A Ryanair plane

Ryanair is set for its second major shake-up in just over a year as long-time boss Michael O’Leary moves to being group chief executive.

It comes just over 12 months after the airline said it would recognise trade unions.

The outspoken CEO has just signed up for another five years at Europe’s biggest low-cost carrier, shunning a return to the 12-month rolling contracts he espoused as recently as the company’s annual general meeting last September.

A new CEO will be appointed this year to run the Ryanair airline, with Mr O’Leary concentrating on the broader development of the group, backed up by a small team of legal and finance personnel.

In his new role Michael O’Leary will have reduced basic pay and a lower bonus.

The structure will be similar to that at IAG, the airline group that owns Aer Lingus, British Airways, Vueling, Iberia and Level.

Stepping down: Long-serving Ryanair chairman David Bonderman will quit the role in 2020Stepping down: Long-serving Ryanair chairman David Bonderman will quit the role in 2020

Stepping down: Long-serving Ryanair chairman David Bonderman will quit the role in 2020

Its CEO is Willie Walsh, with each airline also having its own boss who reports to him.

As with Mr Walsh, Mr O’Leary will oversee strategic decision-making, including the allocation of capital and cost-cutting. The group’s procurement function will move to Ryanair Sun.

Ryanair now wholly owns Austria-based Laudamotion, which is expected to expand to a fleet of about 50 aircraft within the next four years.

It also has a separate Poland-based operation called Ryanair Sun. Both units have their own chief executives. Ryanair UK, recently established to thwart the impact of Brexit on its domestic UK flights, will also have a CEO.

The key challenge, Mr O’Leary said, would be to get the right CEO in Ryanair and “hold his or her hand over the next 12 months”. Mr O’Leary has been chief executive of Ryanair since 1994, having joined the airline a number of years before that.


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Mullingar-based Mr O’Leary, who turns 58 next month and has made hundreds of millions of euro from Ryanair, has frequently speculated over the past decade that his days at Ryanair may be numbered.

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But yesterday’s announcement confirms what many industry observers already believed – that Mr O’Leary is unlikely to hang up his spurs.

Ryanair also announced that its long-serving chairman, billionaire David Bonderman, is to step down from the role in 2020. He’ll be succeeded by current Ryanair non-executive director Stan McCarthy, the former chief executive of Kerry Group.

At Ryanair’s AGM in September, almost 30pc of votes cast by shareholders were opposed to the re-election of Mr Bonderman, who’s been chairman since 1996.

Mr O’Leary’s decision to stay for another five years did little to lift the mood among investors yesterday. Ryanair’s shares fell as much as 6pc as it reported a loss of €20m for the third quarter – its first quarterly loss since 2014.

Irish Independent

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