AUA pilots angered by €3mn bonus payments

Austrian Airlines (AUA) works council chiefs are up in arms over revelations that the debt-stricken carrier forked out bonuses of three million Euros last year.Pilot council representatives said today (Fri) decision-makers were threatening their future and the fate of the whole company when they were informed that 150 managers received bonuses of three million Euros altogether in 2010. They highlighted that the Vienna-based airline – which was acquired by Germany’s Lufthansa in what is considered as an essential step to rescue it from bankruptcy in 2009 – suffered a loss of nearly 65 million Euros at the same time.The AUA board justified the decision to pay out bonuses of that amount despite the negative performance. They stressed that the amount of three million Euros had already been considered in the company’s business figures for 2010. The board promised to abstain from paying any bonuses in 2012 if AUA fails to get back in the black in the current year.The airline’s pilots, who held talks with the board considering salaries and other contract details before the panel abandoned the negotiations, claimed they showed the willingness to accept a five per cent wage cut in the coming five years to help AUA to recover. Now officials representing the pilots of the company are asking the board to demand the bonuses back for moral reasons and the sake of the airline.AUA registered 2.1 million passengers in the first three months of this year, up by one per cent compared to the first quarter of last year. The airline’s board argued business activities suffered due to the nuclear disaster in Japan and the turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East.AUA is headed by Peter Malanik and Andreas Bierwirth. Lufthansa planned to appoint Thierry Antinori as head of the board as of 1 April 2011. However, the Frenchman backed out of the agreement only a few days before he was set to take over.Erste Group Bank AG (Erste Bank) was hit by a debate regarding salaries and bonus payments only days before the AUA dispute erupted.The leading Austrian bank’s executive board was attacked by shareholders for deciding to pay every supervisory board member 700,000 Euros for achievements in 2010. The members of the panel received half the amount for their role in 2009.”Greed is back as the crisis is over,” one shareholder told reporters, stressing that Erste Bank received a loan of 1.2 billion Euros from the state in 2009 as a measure against the effects of the economic crisis.AUA was bolstered with 500 million Euros shortly before Lufthansa agreed to take over.