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AC shareholders to discuss executive compensation

June 4, 2012, Calgary - Air Canada shareholders will get to voice their opinion today on the compensation the airline's executives take home.


June 4, 2012
By The Canadian Press

The opportunity comes at Air Canada's annual general meeting in Calgary.

The resolution on executive pay, however, is non-binding, meaning shareholders can't overrule the board of directors when it comes to compensation.

The board approved the so-called "say on pay'' policy in April and this year's AGM will be the first time it comes into play.

Although it's not binding, Air Canada says the board will review the results and take them into account "when reviewing, in the future, executive compensation philosophy.''

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The compensation package for Air Canada's CEO fell 12 per cent last year, while the payouts of the airline's four other top executives soared even though continued losses drove its share price down more than 70 per cent.

Calin Rovinescu earned $4 million in 2011, down from $4.55 million a year earlier, but higher than the $2.6 million during his first nine months on the job in 2009, according to a proxy circular.

Chief financial officer Michael Rousseau, chief operating officer Duncan Dee, chief commercial officer Benjamin Smith and senior vice-president of operations David Legge each saw their compensation increase by between 18 per cent to nearly 47 per cent.

Base salaries remained mostly steady but each executive saw large gains in share and options-based awards while non-equity incentives fell.

Rousseau's compensation grew to $1.68 million, Dee's was $1.62 million, Smith made $1.37 million and Legge's was up to $1.15 million.

Rovinescu's compensation doesn't include the $5 million retention bonus awarded in March, which will show up on next year's compensation. However, 280,000 options granted to him over the past two years were cancelled at his request.

The Montreal-based airline lost $249 million or 92 cents per share last year despite a 7.7 per cent increase in revenues to $11.6 billion.