IRELAND – The trustees of the underfunded Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme (IASS) do not appear to have finalised a funding proposal to address the €750m shortfall in the multi-employer fund, missing the 30 June deadline set by the Irish Pensions Board.
The missed deadline came to light after a letter from Pensions Board chief executive Brendan Kennedy to the trustee was leaked to the Irish media.
According to state broadcaster RTE, Kennedy said in the letter the proposal could not be accepted because “it would be up to 70 years before the scheme would meet the funding standard”.
IPE understands the letter rejecting the proposal was dated 15 July, two weeks after the 30 June deadline for funding proposals set by the Pensions Board.
Releasing a statement to the Irish Stock Exchange earlier this week, Aer Lingus – alongside the Dublin Airport Authority, the sponsoring employer of IASS – said it was “aware of correspondence” between the regulator and trustees, and noted that the Board had deemed the outlined proposal unacceptable.
The Irish flag carrier’s statement appeared to confirm that no final funding proposal had been sent to the regulator.
“However,” it added, “a formal submission has not at this point been made by the IASS trustee to the Pensions Board.”
A spokesman for the Pensions Board told IPE it could not comment on individual scheme matters.
The Board’s rejection of funding proposals for such a high-profile scheme – following prolonged negotiations between employee and employer representatives that culminated in the case being referred to the Irish Labour Court – has raised tempers among local parliamentarians.
Responding to calls that the government “deal with the issue” due to the Irish state’s stake in Aer Lingus, minister for transport Leo Varadkar said there was little he could say and referred any shareholder comment to the Department of Finance.
Varadkar also appeared to question the Pensions Board’s dismissal of the funding proposal – based on suggestions from the Labour Court – noting that the TD challenging him had said the plan was “not acceptable”.
“That will come as a surprise to many of the workers in Aer Lingus, the DAA and some of the pensioners, many of whom share my view that the recommendations made by the Labour Court would have resulted in a fairer outcome, by which they would have had security about their pensions,” he said.
A spokesman for DAA said it “continued to work with all relevant stakeholders to seek a solution”.