22 Sep 2009

CEO's pay soared while Qantas profit nosedived

10:02 pm on 22 September 2009

Former Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon was paid almost as much for his final nine months as for the previous year, despite a dramatic nosedive in the company's profitability.

Mr Dixon, who was replaced as chief executive in November last year by Alan Joyce, earned $10.7 million for five months as chief executive and the remaining four as a consultant to Qantas during the leadership transition.

He had been paid $12.2 million for the previous 12 months at the company's helm.

Chief financial officer Peter Gregg left the company after only six months' work last financial year $4.9 million better off, with almost $1.7 million in share-based payment and nearly $1.8 million in termination benefits.

Mr Joyce, who inherited the airline just as the global financial crisis slashed its profits, took a $1.5m pay cut, but still got $3.5 million.

Union outraged by 'obscene' salaries

Steve Purvinas, federal secretary of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, which was in a protracted dispute with Qantas to achieve a 10% wage increase in September last year, says his members are outraged by the executive salaries.

"Our members probably see the levels of executive remuneration at Qantas as quite obscene, particularly when the share price is plummeting and what we're seeing is things such as the apprentice training schools being closed down and the outsourcing of more and more aircraft work overseas," he told the ABC.

"It certainly makes the 10% that the engineers got, after they hadn't had a pay rise for three years, pale into insignificance."

In total, Qantas paid its directors $23.5 million, with $15.7 million of that going to departing board members, and most of the money going to the executive directors.

That means that Qantas paid the equivalent of a fifth of last financial year's after-tax net profit to its directors.

The airline's net profit of $117 million for the 2008-09 financial year was 88% down on the previous year, but director pay fell only 7.5%.