Lord King may get an honorary 600,000 pounds-a-year

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Lord King may receive a salary of more than pounds 200,000 a year as president of British Airways, largely an honorary post.

According to sources close to the airline, the 75-year-old peer, who retired as chairman earlier this month after apologising to Richard Branson for BA's 'dirty tricks' campaign against Virgin, will earn about pounds 220,000 a year as part of a package likely to include:

A contribution towards his pension.

A central London office and secretary.

Use of a limousine and a chauffeur.

Free first-class air travel for him and his close family.

Free air travel for his staff.

In all, the package could be worth up to pounds 600,000 a year to Lord King, who could be president for the rest of his life.

Contrary to some reports, no three-year limit has been set on Lord King's tenure. A BA spokesman said: 'He is the president. It is open-ended.'

The spokesman refused to confirm details of the president's remuneration, saying they were still under discussion. However, he said that Lord King would 'represent the airline where appropriate, for example at route inaugural ceremonies.'

In his last full year as chairman, BA paid Lord King pounds 407,650 in salary plus a performance bonus of pounds 220,000. His other chairmanship, Babcock International, pushed his total income close to pounds 1m.

Lord King's first wife died in 1969. He has three sons and a daughter. His second wife is the Honourable Isabel Monckton, daughter of Viscount Galway. He lives on a sprawling country estate in Leicestershire.

His presidential package is in stark contrast to payments made to Dan-Air pilots who lost their jobs when BA took their airline over last October. Some of them, who received redundancy payments of as little as pounds 3,500 for 29 years' service, are taking BA to an industrial tribunal.

Last night Tim Bell, who has been hired by Lord King as his publicity consultant, said that the pounds 220,000 figure was 'wildly inaccurate'. He said that Lord King's salary would be in five figures for what he described as a 'ceremonial role'.

Police have uncovered what they suspect to be a large-scale fraud at BA. Eleven people, including BA employees, have been arrested in connection with the affair, which centres on the property department. A report is being studied by the Crown Prosecution Service, which may refer it to the Serious Fraud Office.

Full story, Business on Sunday

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