MONTREAL -- 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.
Still, the executives were rewarded for having increased revenues, mitigating fuel expense increases, preserving liquidity, surpassing cost cutting targets, achieving high load factors and achieving 90 per cent of the pre-tax operating earnings targets despite fuel and labour challenges.
One of Rovinescu's key accomplishments was to manage through several actual and threatened labour disruptions, including a three-day strike by service and airport workers with minimal passenger disruption, said the proxy report.
Air Canada is taking its annual shareholders meeting on the road this year to Calgary, headquarters of its chief rival WestJet Airlines (TSX:WJA.) The meeting will take place June 4.
Air Canada shares fell two per cent or two cents per share to 94 cents each in Monday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.