Aer Lingus defends directors' pay as Ryanair seeks cut

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Aer Lingus is urging shareholders to vote against a proposal by Ryanair to cut directors' pay at the Irish flag-carrier's upcoming annual general meeting.

Ryanair, a major shareholder in Aer Lingus, is to propose on 5 June that the non-executive chairman's salary be cut to €35,000 from €175,000 in 2007, stating that this cut would take the pay figure "back to the amount earned by the previous non-executive chairman in 2006".

It will also propose that non-executive directors' pay be cut from €45,000 to €17,500.

Future increases in the remuneration of both, the proposal adds, should not exceed the "general level of pay increase" agreed between Aer Lingus and its employees.

Aer Lingus, which has recently posted poor financial figures, says the board voluntarily reduced by 20% their 2009 salaries - paid through directors' fees - to €36,000 for directors and €140,000 for the chairman.

It insists these payments are "reasonable" given the "high level of board activity" and the increase in directors' responsibilities since the airline's initial public offering.