UK – Unions say they will put British Airways’ plans to raise staff retirement age “under the microscope” – saying they mean more pain for workers.

“Today's pension rescue plans announced by BA would mean more pain for a workforce who had already delivered changes and massive savings to the airline,” said the Transport & General Workers Union, which as 20,000 BA members.

The airline’s proposals – which also included a £500m payment – were aimed at clearing the £1bn past service actuarial deficit in its New Airways Pension Scheme (NAPS).

It said: “The airline plans to keep a final salary pension scheme with no changes to pension benefits already earned and no increase in staff contribution rates.”

The normal retirement age would be raised, with a slower accrual rate and with pensionable pay increasing by no more than inflation. Pension increases on retirement capped at 2.5% each year

“This is a solution that will provide competitive, affordable pensions for the future,” said chief executive Willie Walsh. “This should address the pension problem at British Airways once and for all.”

NAPS has 33,794 active members, 20,269 deferred and 15,185 pensioners. It was closed to new members in 2003.

"We need to study the details of what has been put forward today but our immediate reaction has to be that increasing the retirement age or taking reducing benefits to keep the current ones add up to yet more contributions by our members to BA," said the T&G’s national secretary for civil air transport, Brendan Gold.

"The final salary principle remains, which is good, but the company needs to show a lead by recognising its responsibilities and put the cash lump sum up front and not make it conditional."

"It was no secret that BA's pension funds were in deficit but we still don't really know if today's measures will be the right ones for our members and for the scheme," said the T&G’s national secretary for civil air transport, Brendan Gold.

"We need to judge the proposals against affordability by the company and by our members."