Travel CEOs' 2020 pay DOUBLED as they laid off thousands due to COVID
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American corporate executives, some of whom run companies that received millions in loans from the federal government, took home increased pay and bonuses in 2020 despite laying off or furloughing workers due to the pandemic.
Southwest Airlines CEO and chairman Gary Kelly was awarded a record $9.2million in salary, stock options, and other compensation in 2020 even though his company lost $3.1billion due to thepandemic.
Kelly and other top executives at the company saw their salaries increase between 5 and 14 per cent in 2020, according to SEC filings.
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The filings were first reported by the.
Southwest received more than $6.7billion in government grants and threatened to furlough employees if the union did not agree to 10 per cent wage cuts.
After the government approved a second round of stimulus checks in December, the airline said it would not make any wage or employee cuts in 2021 - even though the company was losing money.
Kelly’s base salary and base pay fell in 2020 - from $750,000 the prior year to $562,500.
But he made $300,000 in bonuses as well as $7.1million in stock awards. Kelly also received $1.25million in other compensation.
A company spokesperson said that the stock grants were awarded in January 2020 - before the onset of the pandemic.
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The CARES Act provided aid to airlines on condition that they did not lay off workers, buy back stock, or distribute dividends to shareholders.
Kelly’s pay package was based on the company’s performance in 2019, when it raked in $2.3billion in profit. It was the 47th consecutive year that Southwest finished in the black.
American Airlines also reported a massive loss in 2020 - $8.9billion worth after earning $1.7billion in 2019.
The financial blow that was dealt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the airline to lay off thousands of employees.
Nonetheless, CEO Doug Parker took home more than $7million in stock options, according to theblog - this despite the fact that the company secured some $9billion in financial assistance from the federal government.
DailyMail.com has reached out to American Airlines seeking comment.
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The cruise industry also got hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Norwegian Cruise Line lost some $4billion in 2020, forcing it to furlough hundreds of employees and cut wages of its remaining staff by 20 per cent.
Nonetheless, Norwegian CEO Frank Del Rio saw his pay double last year to $36.4million.
This included a $3.6million bonus as well as a one-time bonus of $2.8million.
A Norwegian spokesperson toldthat the pay increase was part of a three-year contract extension. Del Rio also benefited from special payouts tied to the management team’s performance during the pandemic.
Another company that was hit hard during the pandemic was Hilton, the world’s second-largest operator of hotels.
The company reported a $720million loss in 2020, including a $225million loss in the fourth quarter.
Hilton laid off roughly 22 per cent of its global corporate staff and furloughed thousands of others.
Nonetheless, the company’s CEO, Chris Nassetta, received a bonus worth $13.7million in Hilton shares, according to.
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The company board also made modifications to stock grants that could add tens of millions to his overall pay.
In SEC filings, Hilton said that it paid Nassetta a total of $56million in 2020 - more than double what he made in 2019.
A spokesperson for Hilton told CBS News that the figure is inflated due to ‘accounting and disclosure rules’ and that Nassetta’s actual pay is $20.1million, a slight drop from what he made in 2019.
‘Our CEO did not take home $55.9 million in 2020,’ the spokesperson said.
Yum Brands, the conglomerate that owns popular brand names like Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, paid its CEO, David Gibbs, $9.5million last year despite the fact that earnings fell companywide by 25 per cent.
Foot Locker, the sporting goods retailer, paid CEO Richard Johnson $12million, 30 per cent more compared to 2019, according to CBS News.
While Johnson saw his pay increase, the company furloughed almost all of its workers without pay beginning in late April 2020. It has since offered to rehire most of them.
The pay increase was made even though Foot Locker’s annual sales reached an all-time high in 2019 - $8billion.
Due to the closure of stores brought about by the coronavirus pandemic as well as the protests against the police-involved killing of George Floyd, the sales fell by 5.7 per cent to $7.548billion.
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