independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Aviation chief in dark over 11-year delay on pensions

THE State's aviation watchdog has been waiting 11 years for the Department of Finance to give final approval to its pension scheme.

The head of the Commission for Aviation Regulation said he had no idea what the delay was in upgrading the organisation's pension scheme from its interim status.

Cathal Guiomard told the Dail's Public Accounts Committee the watchdog had been in regular contact with the department but to no avail.

"We have pressed them hard to know was there anything required from our side that they needed to conclude on this," Mr Guiomard said. "They have for the best part of a decade everything they sought from us."

The commission's annual report for 2011 noted that its pension scheme, which had a deficit in the year of €252,733, has interim status.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said it could not comment last night.

Mr Guiomard attended the PAC along with the heads of the Commission for Energy Regulation and the Commission for Communications Regulation.

The CAR chief also said that passenger traffic had declined substantially and that the implications for the charges at Dublin Airport were considerable.

Mr Guiomard said the full cost of Terminal 2 would fall as more people use the building.

"Nevertheless the traffic decline and the cost increase has substantially increased charges and this has given rise to controversy and complaint then and since," he said.

Mr Guiomard denied complaints from Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary concerning staff levels at the commission.

Meanwhile, the head of the Commission for Communications Regulation Alex Chisholm said there was an obligation on Vodafone under the 3G and 4G licence to provide 85pc coverage.

But Fianna Fail TD Sean Fleming said people with smart phones would be affected by this.

"Now 15pc of Ireland who bought these phones in good faith are not able to get an adequate signal that they had under the previous mobile phone and your licence has designed that that can be the case," he added.

Irish Independent

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