This week's travel news

Why Robert Milton Made $14.7 Million In 2009, Versailles No More: Pearson Named World’s Most Improved Airport, and More Profit, More Planes for Emirates

Why Robert Milton Made $14.7 Million In 2009
Robert Milton’s legacy at Air Canada may be hotly debated, but there’s no question Milton’s long association with the airline has left a lasting legacy in his bank account. While long since departed to England, Milton is still president and CEO of ACE Aviation, AC’s parent company and 35% shareholder in the airline. As Canadian Press reported this week, thanks to a ‘rationalized’ compensation structure, Milton received close to $15-million from ACE in 2009 – not bad compensation for a part-time job. In reality, Milton’s big payday has more to do with the ‘value-enhancing transactions’ that have enriched shareholders in the past five years, namely spinning off Aeroplan and Jazz Air. In actual compensation for 2009 Milton received a base salary of just over $500,000 and consulting fees of $157,500. Milton also received severance compensation of $7.62 million and a “last payment” of $5 million in ‘incentive awards.’ This year’s $14.7-million in compensation should be the last of the big windfalls for Milton – he made $39-million in 2006 and 2007, again mostly in cash bonuses for engineering the asset sales that warmed the hearts of investors and enraged unions. Going forward, Milton’s paycheque will be held to $270,000 per year – unless he works more than 40 days, at which point he’ll get a per diem of $8,000 per day.

Versailles No More: Pearson Named World’s Most Improved Airport
Once derided as the most expensive place in the world for airlines to land, Toronto’s Pearson International has been honoured by the International Air Transport Association as the world’s ‘most improved’ airport. Over the past three years, Pearson has decreased various charges by 13 to 15 percent. The fee cuts come in the wake of an IATA campaign to get the Greater Toronto Airport Association to lower costs. As IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani puts it: “They built a monument with no notion of how to fund it. We called it Versailles. We had to get rid of a [federal] minister and the [GTAA] CEO. Then we started to work closely together.” As Doug McArthur reported at this week, whether or not passengers are benefitting from lower costs is an open question. Asked if the savings are being passed on to passengers, Bisignani replied cryptically that “the money doesn’t stay in the airlines’ pocket.” Asked the same question, Marilynne Day-Linton, chair of the GTAA board, said she didn’t know. Air Canada president and CEO Calin Rovinescu came closest to giving a clear answer, saying cost reductions are reflected in Air Canada’s fares, which are lower “on an absolute basis” than they were a decade ago. IATA says the big benefit of the reduced costs is that fewer airlines will pull out of Toronto and more new airlines will start flying there.

More Profit, More Planes for Emirates
A day after announcing that it is on track to earn more than $1 billion in profits this year, Dubai based airline Emirates placed an $11.5 billion order for 32 Airbus A380s – the world’s largest passenger aircraft. Emirates now has 90 of the big birds on order, over 40% of the entire A380 order book for Airbus. A380s aren’t the only planes in Emirates’ future – in total the airline has contracted for 150 wide-body aircraft worth more than $40 billion, including 70 A350s and 18 Boeing 777-300s. It’s all part of of Emirates’ ambitious strategy to act as a global hub, joining previously unconnected city-pairs around the world through just one stop in Dubai. Emirates is currently flying 10 A380s, with Toronto one of the stops on its route map. The airline was founded just 25 years ago and now ranks among the top 10 in the world in terms of revenue and international passengers. Profitability and a reputation for first rate onboard service has earned Emirates 8th place in this year’s Skytrax ranking of the world’s best airlines. To put its $1 billion profit projection in perspective, the world’s airlines are expected to earn a total of $2.8 billion this year.

By: Bruce Parkinson
Bruce Parkinson is a travel industry journalist and regular contributor to as well as sister company,

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