The 10 Highest-Paid U.S. Airline CEOs in 2022

The airline industry is no stranger to executive compensation, with top executives often commanding substantial salaries. In 2022, several U.S. airline CEOs stood out for their impressive pay packages. Let’s take a closer look at the 10 highest-paid U.S. airline CEOs based on their total compensation.

Compensation Actually Paid

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In 2022, a new rule from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) required large, publicly traded companies to disclose the “compensation actually paid” figure for their top executives, which added a twist to how CEO pay was calculated.

“The point of the rule change is to provide a different valuation as of the end of the year, which essentially reflects how the stock value changed from the grant date (up or down),” a United spokesperson said. “You can see that reflected here.”

To clarify, if the stocks of certain airline executives had performed better, they could have received millions more in compensation.

1. Scott Kirby – United Airlines

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Leading the pack of the highest paid airline CEO is Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, with total compensation of $9.8 million. His United Airlines CEO salary is a combination of a $1 million base salary and $8.7 million in stock awards. Kirby’s strategic leadership and focus on operational efficiency have played a crucial role in United’s success, with United reporting a net profit for the first year since 2019 totaling $737 million. Scott Kirby’s salary lands him on the top of our list of highest paid US airlines CEOs.

  • Compensation actually paid – $10.06 million

2. Ed Bastian – Delta Air Lines

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Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, takes the second spot with total compensation of $9.6 million. Bastian’s base salary was $950,000 plus $5.7 million in stock awards. Bastian’s strong leadership and customer-centric approach have contributed to Delta’s industry-leading reputation, and it is reflected in his Delta Airlines CEO salary.

  • Compensation actually paid – $7.61 million

3. John Redmond – Allegiant Air

West Palm Beach, United States - November 13, 2022: Allegiant Airbus A320 airplane at Palm Beach airport (PBI) in the United States.
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John Redmond, CEO of Allegiant Air, secures the third position with a total compensation of $8.55 million. Redmond’s leadership has driven Allegiant Air’s growth and expansion, making it a popular choice among leisure travelers. Redmond became Allegiant’s CEO on June 1, 2022.

  • Compensation actually paid – $5.96 million

Interesting to note that the outgoing CEO Maurice Gallagher Jr. waived his salary in 2020 and 2021 as a response to the pandemic.

4. Doug Parker – American Airlines

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Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines, earns a total compensation of $6.54 million, placing him in the fourth position. Parker’s strategic vision and focus on customer experience have been instrumental in American Airlines’ success.

  • Compensation actually paid – $3.88 million

5. Ben Minicucci – Alaska Airlines

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Ben Minicucci, CEO of Alaska Airlines, ranks fifth with a total compensation of $6.49 million. Minicucci’s leadership has focused on expanding Alaska Airlines’ route network and enhancing its customer offerings. Minicucci’s salary was one of the most eye-popping increases in 2022 out of all CEOs on this list, approximately double his salary from 2021.

  • Compensation actually paid – $3 million

6. Bob Jordan – Southwest Airlines

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Felipe I Santiago

Bob Jordan, CEO of Southwest Airlines, takes the sixth spot with total compensation of $5.33 million. His total pay included a base salary of almost $677,000, a bonus of $196,000, and stock awards of $3.6 million. Jordan’s commitment to maintaining Southwest’s unique company culture and low-cost model has been key to its enduring success.

However, even though Southwest promised to cut executive bonuses after the holiday meltdown the airline experienced, Jordan’s salary increased in 2022.

  • Compensation actually paid – $4.76 million

7. Gary Kelly – Southwest Airlines

Boeing 737 Southwest Airlines takes off from McCarran in Las Vegas, NV, USA on November 7, 2014. Southwest is a major US airline and the world's largest low-cost carrier.
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Gary Kelly, the former CEO of Southwest Airlines, earns a total compensation of $5.07 million, securing the seventh position.

  • Compensation actually paid – $4.17 million

8. Robert Isom – American Airlines

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Robert Isom, President of American Airlines, earns a total compensation of $4.89 million, placing him in the eighth position. Isom’s operational expertise and focus on efficiency have driven American Airlines’ performance. His American Airlines CEO salary ranks eighth on the list of the highest paid US Airlines CEOs.

  • Compensation actually paid – $3.51 million

9. Barry Biffle – Frontier Airlines

Chicago, USA - March 27, 2018: Frontier Airlines Airbus A320 with the Jaguar livery approaching O'Hare International Airport.
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Barry Biffle, CEO of Frontier Airlines, commands a total compensation of $3.75 million, securing the ninth spot. Biffle’s leadership has focused on expanding Frontier’s route network.

  • Compensation actually paid – $2.55 million

10. Robin Hayes – JetBlue Airways

New York City, New York – March 1, 2020: JetBlue Airbus A320 airplane at New York JFK airport (JFK) in the United States. Airbus is a European aircraft manufacturer based in Toulouse, France.
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Robin Hayes, CEO of JetBlue Airways, rounds out the list with total compensation of $3.46 million. Hayes’ strategic initiatives and commitment to sustainability have positioned JetBlue as a leading player in the industry.

  • Compensation actually paid – $1.86 million

These top 10 highest-paid U.S. airline CEOs in 2022 exemplify strong leadership and strategic vision within the airline industry. It’s important to note that executive compensation reflects various factors, including company performance and market conditions.

Source: Skift

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Travel Writer at Savoteur | + posts

Casandra Karpiak is a travel writer and owner of Savoteur. A Toronto native with Danish roots currently residing in British Columbia, her travel writing has been seen on The Associated Press wire, MSN, FOX, CBS, NBC, Entrepreneur, 24/7 Wall St, Times Daily, and many more. When she’s not traveling, she can be found at hockey arenas all over BC cheering on her two young sons.