Bonus package for Air France-KLM chief is ‘incomprehensible’, says Dutch minister

Air via Wikimedia Commons
Air via Wikimedia Commons

Finance minister Sigrid Kaag has described the multi million euro bonus agreed for Air France-KLM chief executive Ben Smith as ‘incomprehensible and inappropriate’, given the company needed massive state support to survive during the coronavirus pandemic.

Smith has a basic salary of €900,000 but his total remuneration package for the year will total €4.3 million including bonuses, according to the airline’s annual report.

Both Air France and KLM relied on state support and other subsidies to get through the crisis and given this, such bonuses are ‘not socially responsible’, Kaag said. Air France-KLM lost €3.3 billion last year while KLM was given a €3.4 billion bailout of loans and guarantees in 2020.

The Dutch state, as a shareholder in the company, has criticised the bonuses handed out to senior executives at the airline on a regular basis. The government will also vote against Smith’s pay at the May AGM, Kaag said.

Smith’s bonus will not be paid out until the state support has been repaid. Last year he agreed to give up his bonus and a quarter of his salary in 2020 after protests in the Netherlands.

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