Skift Take

Amadeus’ Luis Maroto came out on top in 2018. His executive compensation is appropriate, given that the company is the most valuable European travel firm.

Amadeus’ Luis Maroto came out on top of Skift’s annual review of CEO pay at Europe’s biggest public travel and hospitality companies.

The long-serving CEO’s remuneration rose 5 percent over the previous year, totaling $5.6 million. Much of it — $3.4 million — was share-related with only around $1 million coming in the form of salary.

Although it is generally difficult to justify CEO pay, at least Maroto’s is a reward for success. The company’s market capitalization of just over $35 billion makes it the most valuable travel company on the list, and it has made a net profit of more than $1 billion in each of the last two years.

Second on our rundown was Fritz Joussen of integrated leisure travel company TUI Group. Joussen was awarded a package worth $5.3 million in 2018, which included $1.9 million in long-term share incentives.

The CEO with the biggest pay increase was Nick Varney of Legoland operator Merlin Entertainments, which is in the process of being taken private. The increase was largely due to a bigger long-term share award and a $402,000 bonus — his first since 2014. InterContinental Hotels Group CEO Keith Barr’s 43 percent increase is mostly down to him being in the job for a full year, since taking over in July 2017.


One CEO who wasn’t happy with his own performance was Michael O’Leary of low-cost carrier Ryanair. In fall 2017, the airline suffered what it called a “pilot rostering failure,” which led it to cancel 2,000 of the 130,000 flights scheduled in September and October of that year.

O’Leary was unusually contrite in his response to the problem and subsequently decided to waive his bonus in 2018.

While O’Leary took some self-inflicted punishment, there was an altogether stranger situation at Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, where Jennifer Fox, one of the few female CEOs on the list, lasted just 101 days in the job.

In its annual report the company reports a remuneration figure of $0.3 million for Fox but then listed an additional $1.3 million in payment for loss of office. This figure included $0.8 million in annual salary.

“During the year, Jennifer Fox was appointed as the company’s group chief executive officer and as a director of the company. She served in that capacity until 27 September 2018, at which point her employment with the group ceased after she and the board mutually agreed it would be best for her to step down,” the company said in its remuneration report.

European Travel and Tourism CEO COMPENSATION 2018

Company Sector CEO Total Pay 2018 change Profit 2018 change
Amadeus Tech Luis Maroto $5.6m 5% $1.1bn 0%
TUI Tour Operator Fritz Joussen $5.3m -8% $913m 8%
Accor Hospitality Sébastien Bazin $4.6m -23% $2.5bn 370%
Lufthansa Airline Carsten Spohr $4.3m -9% $2.4bn -8%
IHG Hospitality Keith Barr $3.8m 43% $352m -35%
IAG Airline Willie Walsh $3.8m -23% $3.2bn 44%
Whitbread Hospitality Alison Brittain $2.9m -7% $546m 5%
Ryanair Airline Michael O’Leary $2.6m -29% $1.5bn 10%
EasyJet Airline Johan Lundgren* $1.9m n/a $445m 17%
Merlin Theme Park Nick Varney $1.9m 64% $287m 10%
Europcar Car Rental Caroline Parot $1.8m 14% $155m 128%
Melia Hotels Hospitality Gabriel Escarrer Jaume $1.6m 8% $161m 13%
Wizz Air Airline József Váradi $1.4m 3% $307m 12%
NH Hotel Group Hospitality Ramon Aragonés Marín $1.1m -4% $139m 218%
Air France-KLM Airline Benjamin Smith† $1.1m n/a $458m 152%
Parques Reunidos Theme Park Fernando Eiroa $0.8m 3% $15m 14%
Dart Group Airline Philip Meeson‡ $0.6m 3% $138m 44%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Hospitality Jennifer Fox§ $0.3m n/a $116m -42%

*For the period between December 1, 2017, and September 30, 2018.

†For the period from September 17 to December 31, 2018.

‡Philip Meeson is technically the executive chairman, with Steve Heapy serving as CEO of travel subsidiaries Jet2 and Jet2holidays. Heapy was paid $1.3 million in 2018.

§Fox joined on June 19, 2018, and stepped down on September 27, 2018.


To narrow down the list of companies, Skift only included those with a market capitalization of more than $1 billion as of the week beginning July 22, 2019 (sorry Thomas Cook, Norwegian, and others).

We also discarded cruise company Carnival because of its dual-listed structure. Trainline only recently went public so it has not been included. (According to the company’s prospectus in 2019 CEO Clare Gilmartin’s remuneration was $1.5 million.)

Where companies included former CEOs (e.g. Carolyn McCall at EasyJet and Jean-Marc Janaillac at Air France-KLM), we have chosen to leave them out in favor of the incumbents.

Conversions from original currencies (euros and pounds) were made during the week beginning July 22.

When companies gave multiple figures for remuneration, we’ve used the amount awarded in that financial year. We’ve altered our methodology so it’s not fair to compare 2017 to 2018, but here is our story from last year as a reference.


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Tags: amadeus, ceo pay, millennium and copthorne, ryanair, tui, tui group

Photo credit: Tanya Beckett, BBC journalist and presenter, interviews Luis Maroto, Amadeus CEO, at the World Travel and Tourism Global Summit in Seville, Spain. Maroto was the best paid CEO out of a selection compiled by Skift. WTTC

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