Saturday 20 January 2018

Leo Varadkar in veiled swipe at Aer Lingus boss Mueller's pension

Aer Lingus Chief Executive Officer Christoph Mueller
Aer Lingus Chief Executive Officer Christoph Mueller
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has taken a veiled swipe at pension payments made to Aer Lingus boss Christoph Mueller as an expert panel tries to hammer out a resolution to a pensions issue that affects staff at the airline and the Dublin Airport Authority.

The minister had been asked in a parliamentary question by Independent TD Terence Flanagan whether his department could take any action regarding the increased pension payments awarded to Mr Mueller last year as former and current staff face the prospect of their pensions entitlements being slashed in order to address a near €800m deficit at the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme.

In asking his question, Mr Flanagan told Mr Varadkar what one of his constituents in north Dublin had said to him.

"Given that his (Mr Mueller's) workers are facing the prospect of a 20pc cut to their pensions and the imposition of coordination to their defined benefit scheme, the increase in the contribution rate from 25pc to 40pc to the chief executive's pension pot must really stick in the craw of those workers," claimed the constituent.

In reply, Mr Varadkar said Aer Lingus was a publicly listed company and as such the remuneration package of Mr Mueller was decided by the airline's remuneration committee and its board.

"It would be inappropriate for my department to seek to take action in this regard," he said. "However, the correspondent's point is well made."

Aer Lingus paid Mr Mueller a €400,000 bonus for "exceptional performance" and having battled Ryanair in its latest takeover attempt last year.

It also paid him an annual performance-related bonus of €420,000 and a pension contribution of €175,000. That was all on top of his basic €475,000 salary.

Irish Independent

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