Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary Earns a Hefty Salary Even at 50 Percent

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary had a $1.1 billion net worth in 2018 and currently earns about $1.2 million per year. What is his current salary?

Kathryn Underwood - Author

May 24 2021, Published 2:41 p.m. ET

Michael O'Leary
Source: Ryanair Media

Michael O'Leary has been the Ryanair CEO for about 25 years.

The chief executive of discount airline Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, earns a handsome salary in his executive role. The Irish businessman has been the CEO of Ryanair since 1994 and also currently serves as CEO of Ryanair Holdings.

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O’Leary earned 3.73 million euros for the year ending March 31, 2019, according to the Irish Times. That would equal about $4.5 million in U.S. dollars. That salary was made up of a base salary of 1.058 million euros, 768,000 euros as a bonus, and 1.547 million euros.

Michael O'Leary signed a new contract

O’Leary is now about two years into a five-year contract in which he agreed to an approximate 50 percent pay cut in base and bonus money. The latest contract is set to expire on July 31, 2024. It allows only 500,000 euros in base salary and a maximum of 500,000 euros in bonuses.

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Source: Ryanair Media

A Ryanair aircraft in flight

Depending on the airline’s financial performance throughout O'Leary's contract, he can exercise stock options in addition to the 44 million shares he owned in 2019.

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Michael O’Leary's net worth as CEO of Ryanair

According to Forbes, O’Leary had an approximate net worth of $1.1 billion as of March 2018. This secured him spot #1,999 on the Billionaires 2018 list, but he didn’t make the list in 2019, so his current net worth might be under $1 billion.

Michael O’Leary’s wife

O’Leary is married to Anita Farrell. The two have been married since 2003, and the couple have four children together. As Independent.ie reported at the time of their wedding, O’Leary made a joke that his bride-to-be would be late since she was “flying Aer Lingus” (a competing airline).

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Ryanair shares

Ryanair is traded publicly on the Nasdaq Exchange under the ticker symbol "RYAAY." Airline stocks in general have struggled due to many coronavirus lockdowns throughout 2020 and into 2021. Ryanair reported net losses for the year ending in March 2021 of 815 million euros or $989 million, according to CNBC.

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O’Leary recently spoke with the media with optimism but acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic had made it a very difficult year. He reported that bookings have been increasing for air travel. He said, “I think if these trends continue we will be looking reasonably optimistic towards a very strong second quarter of traffic recovery.”

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michael oleary ryanair
Source: Ryanair Facebook

O’Leary didn’t expect prices on flights to increase significantly during the summer of 2021, but that could change by the end of 2021 and into mid-2022. 

For the 12 months ending in March 2021, Ryanair reportedly served 27.5 million customers. The airline expects between 80 million and 120 million customers for the year up to March 2022.

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O’Leary comments on Belarus flight diversion

O’Leary sharply condemned the actions of the government of Belarus, which diverted a Ryanair flight in order to capture a dissident journalist. Belarusian air traffic control convinced Ryanair Flight #4978 to change course mid-flight. The passenger flight from Athens, Greece to Vilnius, Lithuania was forced to land in Minsk, Belarus.

The reason for the flight diversion was supposedly a potential security risk, but upon landing in Minsk, journalist and activist Raman Pratasevich was detained by Belarusian officials. O’Leary called the actions a “state-sponsored hijacking.”


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