Aer Lingus pension plan rebuffed by Irish watchdog

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Aer Lingus is seeking an emergency meeting with the trustee of its main general-employees pension scheme after the Irish watchdog rejected the airline's proposal for helping make up a €750 million ($980 million) deficit in the fund.

The flag carrier is taking action after the chief executive of the Irish Pension Board, Brendan Kennedy, stated in a letter to the trustee of the Irish Airlines (General Employees) Superannuation Scheme (IASS) that the scheme would not meet its financial obligations.

In extracts of the letter published by The Irish Independent, Kennedy says: "We understand from your presentations that it would be up to 70 years before the scheme would meet the funding standard, and it is our view that such a lengthy derogation from the obligation to meet the funding standard would not be consistent with the objectives of the Pensions Act."

The letter effectively dismisses a proposal by Aer Lingus and the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) to make a one-off payment of some €200 million to stabilise and freeze the fund.

The IASS is a mixed employee scheme shared by some 2,500 Aer Lingus workers, plus DAA employees and former SR Technics staff.