Skift Take

European travel CEOs are paid well by most standards — but not compared with their peers across the pond.

Amadeus’s long-serving CEO Luis Maroto was the highest paid CEO among Europe’s leading travel companies in 2017.

The Madrid-based firm awarded Maroto $5.6 million last year, more than any of his peers among the 21 other businesses Skift surveyed.

Maroto’s total pay packet included a fixed salary of $1 million (€0.9 million), a bonus of $1.3 million (€1.1 million), and stock awards totalling $3.2 million (€2.7 million).

Despite helping his company achieve a net profit of over a $1 billion, Maroto’s remuneration actually fell slightly compared with 2016.

Second on the 2017 list was Willie Walsh, the boss of British Airways and Iberia parent company IAG, on $5.3 million (£4 million). Third was another airline boss, Lufthansa’s Carsten Spohr with $4.9 million (€4.2 million).

Of the 23 CEOs (including the one executive chairman), there are nine from the airline industry and nine from the hotel sector.

Interestingly, the median average was higher in the hotel sector while the mean average was higher in airlines. Some of the best paid travel CEOs were from the airline world but this was balanced out by the likes of Norwegian and Dart Group, which paid their leading execs less, perhaps because they both own a significant chunk of their respective companies.

Company CEO Total Pay 2017 Total Pay 2016 Profit 2017 Profit 2016
Amadeus Luis Maroto $5.6m $5.8m $1.2bn $964m
IAG Willie Walsh $5.3m $3.3m $2.36bn $2.28bn
Lufthansa Carsten Spohr $4.9m $3.6m $2.80bn $2.10bn
Ryanair Michael O’Leary $3.8m $3.7m $1.53bn $1.82bn
TUI Fritz Joussen $3.8m $3.5m $888m $1.34bn
Whitbread Alison Brittain $3.3m $0.8m $555m $517m
AccorHotels Sébastien Bazin $2.9m $1.9m $561m $349m
InterContinental Hotels Group* Richard Solomons $2.9m $4.9m $593m $417m
InterContinental Hotels Group Keith Barr $2.8m n/a $593m $417m
Thomas Cook Peter Fankhauser $2.5m $1.6m $16m $1.3m
Scandic Hotels† Frank Fiskers $2.1m $1.7m $80.4m $99.8m
Melia Hotels Gabriel Escarrer Jaume $1.5m $1.5m $155.6m $120m
Finnair Pekka Vauramo $1.4m $1.2m $198m $99.3m
Wizz Air József Váradi $1.4m $2.1m $286.9m $225m
Air France-KLM Jean-Marc Janaillac $1.3m $0.6m ($320.8m) $923.8m
NH Hotel Group Ramón Aragonés $1.3m n/a $45.7m $39.8m
Merlin Entertainments Nick Varney $1.2m $2.7m $279m $281.6m
EasyJet Carolyn McCall $1m $1.9m $407.1m $583.3m
Parques Reunidos Fernando Eiroa $0.8m $0.5m $13.3m $4.1m
Dart Group‡ Philip Meeson $0.6m $0.6m $102.4m $118.5m
Scandic Hotels Even Frydenberg 0.5m n/a $80.4m $99.8m
Norwegian Bjørn Kjos $0.3m $0.3m ($219m) $138.7m
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels§ Aloysius Lee 0.07m $0.96m $212.2m $130.8m

*Richard Solomons left on June 30 and Keith Barr Started on July 1.
† Frank Fiskers left on July 31 and Even Frydenberg took over on August 1.
‡Philip Meeson is technically the executive chairman with Steve Heapy serving as CEO of travel subsidiaries Jet2 and Jet2holidays.
§ Aloysius Lee left on January 31 and his temporary replacement was not an executive director.

Remuneration and profit figures given in original currencies were converted to U.S. dollars.

High Pay But Not That High

What is surprising when looking at the 21 companies is the relatively small spread between the highest and the lowest – especially when compared with U.S. companies. Fifteen of the CEOs earned between $1 million and $4 million.

Walsh’s and Spohr’s pay might look outrageous to some but IAG and Lufthansa were more profitable than both American Airlines and United Airlines. In 2017, those  U.S. carriers paid their CEOs $12.2 million and $9.6 million, respectively.

The lowest paid boss (on an annual basis) in our ranking was once again technically Norwegian’s Bjørn Kjos with the low-cost airline awarding him $300,000. He is also, however, the majority shareholder of HBK Holding AS, which owns 26.8 percent of Norwegian. We shouldn’t, therefore, feel too sorry for him.

Michael O’Leary, the CEO of Ryanair, might also appear comparatively underpaid but  having been in charge of the airline since 1994 he has built up a 4 percent shareholding in the company worth and estimated $897 million.

Perks of the Job

As well as the benefits—health insurance, a company car, and sometimes even free newspapers—there are often other interesting nuggets in corporate pay reports.

InterContinental Hotels Group, for example, handed new CEO Keith Barr a relocation payment of $900,000 (£0.7 million) to cover “the transitional and transactional costs of him and his family localising to the UK.”

Not quite as lucky was Wizz Air’s József Váradi, whose one and only benefit was “six free return tickets usable on the route network of the group” with an estimated value of $934 (€800).

In a similar vein, executives at TUI Group, including the CEO Fritz Joussen are allowed to take a twice-yearly all expenses paid holiday “from within the world of TUI range”, partners get a 50 percent discount and children “still in education or training” get to go for free.

During its 2017 financial year Stockholm-based Scandic Hotels changed its CEO. Frank Fiskers left on July 31 with Even Frydenberg taking over a day later.

While Fiskers may have only worked two more months, Scandic paid him four times more than his successor ($2.1 million versus $0.5 million) thanks mainly to a $1.1 million payment. A spokesperson for Scandic said this was “compensation for non-compete restrictions and compensation for being available as an advisor to his successor and the board of directors during the notice period.”

How we Measured

This year we decided to include travel and tourism companies with a market capitalization of more than $1 billion (excluding dual-listed Carnival). This ruled out the likes of online travel agents On the Beach and eDreams Odigeo as well as the renamed Radisson Hospitality and Hostelworld.

Sadly, we were enable to include CEO to median staff pay ratios, unlike in the U.S., European companies don’t have to include those disclosures. Apparently change is coming though.

Free Daily Newsletter

Sign up for the most popular Skift daily download of news, happening, and headlines in the travel world

Tags: airlines, ceo pay, hotels, tour operators, tourism, travel

Photo credit: Luis Maroto speaking at the World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit. The Amadeus CEO was the highest paid European travel CEO in a Skift survey. / World Travel & Tourism Council