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Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary speaks at an event in London on Oct. 1, 2019.

Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Ryanair shareholders backed a 458,000 euro ($540,000) bonus for Group CEO Michael O’Leary on Thursday, although more than a third withheld their support following criticism of the payout at a time of industry crisis.

Shareholders approved the Irish budget carrier’s remuneration report, which included the award, with 65.8 per cent in favor, the company said in a statement.

Proxy advisor Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) had said the pay award for the financial year ended in March “raises concerns” and was hard to justify amid the unprecedented aviation crisis sparked by COVID-19.

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O’Leary’s base salary and maximum bonus for the year to the end of March 2020 were each cut by 50 per cent to 500,000 euros, according to the company’s annual report.

Speaking to Reuters in an interview last week ahead of the annual general meeting (AGM), O’Leary said those cuts “by any measure would be indicative of the board responding appropriately to the pandemic.”

“I’d like to see what the chief executive of ISS, what his pay was reduced by over the past 12 months. It’ll certainly be less than mine,” O’Leary added.

A spokeswoman for ISS said it did not disclose executive pay as it was a private company. “We don’t make such disclosures,” she said.

O’Leary’s pay has proved contentious before. His five-year bonus plan, worth up to 100 million euros if targets related to share price and profitability are hit, scraped through with 50.5 per cent support in a shareholder vote last September.

ISS also recommended shareholders in Ryanair rival IAG, which owns British Airways and Aer Lingus, reject a payment of 883,000 pounds ($1.14 million) to departing chief executive Willie Walsh. That payment that was approved by shareholders last week.

Ryanair did not provide any media access to its AGM, citing COVID-19 restrictions.

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