Michael O’Leary, who built Ryanair Holdings Plc into Europe’s biggest discount airline over two decades, signed a five-year contract extension that will keep him at the Irish company until September 2019.

The deal replaces a rolling 12-month arrangement under which O’Leary has worked since Ryanair first sold shares to the public in 1997, the Dublin-based company said in a statement.

Under the new package, the 53-year-old CEO has been granted options over 5 million ordinary shares payable at current market prices, which would value them at 36 million euros ($46 million) based on today’s closing level. The options will vest only if Ryanair meets “exceptional performance targets” set by the remuneration committee, the company said.

O’Leary said in an interview in May 2013 that he favored remaining with Ryanair for another five years in order to secure its dominance of the short-haul market amid a gradual retreat from intra-European operations by network rivals.

Ryanair expects to lift its annual passenger tally from 81 million last year to more than 120 million by 2019, according to today’s statement. The carrier has boosted traffic from 3 million in 1997.

O’Leary once regularly promised to quit Ryanair “in a couple of years.” Ryanair Deputy CEO Howard Millar said in June that he’d leave the carrier in December after more than 22 years because his boss showed no sign of handing over the reins.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Jasper in London at cjasper@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net.

Tags: oleary, ryanair
Photo Credit: Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary gestures during a news conference in Madrid, September 20, 2012. Paul Hanna / Reuters