Freed from government assistance restrictions during the pandemic, Air Canada President and CEO Michael Rousseau's compensation more than tripled in 2022.

Rousseau received total compensation of $12.4 million in 2022, compared with $3.7 million in 2021, according to regulatory documents released by the airline.

The increase is largely due to Air Canada's withdrawal from the Large Employer Emergency Credit (LEEC) program. This federal assistance was accompanied by a cap on executive compensation.

"In November 2021, the company cancelled some of its CUGE credit facilities. The compensation for 2022 reflects Air Canada's return to its usual market-based compensation practices," the company explains.

In 2021, the salary of Air Canada's top executive was thus limited to $500,000, compared to his official salary of $1.2 million. His long-term incentive plan was capped at $500,000 rather than $5.6 million.

In addition to his salary of $1.3 million, Rousseau was entitled to $10.1 million in incentive plan, share-based awards and stock options. The value of his pension liability is $1 million.

Total compensation for Air Canada's five most senior executives is $23.1 million, compared to $8.3 million in 2021.

The Human Resources Committee of the Board of Directors believes that Air Canada is on track to recover from the shock of COVID-19 and health restrictions. In 2022, the company recorded an operating loss of $187 million, compared to a $3.1 billion shortfall in the same period last year.

Air Canada says that 15 per cent of its directors are fluent in French. It points out that five of the six members of its executive committee are bilingual and that Mr. Rousseau "has continued to respect his personal commitment to learn French."

The airline will hold its annual meeting on May 12.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on April 10, 2023.