Aer Lingus faces €200m demand to fill pension gap
A GOVERNMENT-appointed body will ask Aer Lingus and the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) to hike their contributions to shore up a €780m hole in a pension scheme for 14,000 aviation workers.
The Expert Panel on the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme (IASS) is expected to issue its report on the deficit today despite a protest letter by Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller.
It is understood that the trouble-shooting panel will seek an increase in contributions from employers, with some sources claiming Aer Lingus may be asked to fork out over €200m.
The airline has already ringfenced €140m, made up of €110m for staff, with another €30m for deferred members.
The panel will set out a formula for the employers' contributions, and will also deal with pensioners and deferred pensioners' benefits.
It will also issue recommendations in relation to employers' requests for cost-offsetting measures.
Last week, SIPTU condemned Aer Lingus's chief executive for seeking a delay in the report.
SIPTU, which represents 2,800 Dublin Airport Authority and Aer Lingus staff, has warned it will ballot for industrial action if the report is rejected by its members.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar set up the Expert Panel last March to resolve a dispute over the deficit.
This followed failed interventions by the Labour Relations Commission and Labour Court.
The scheme covers current and former workers at Dublin Airport Authority, Aer Lingus, Shannon Airport Authority and former SR Technics staff.
Mr Mueller urged the panel to hold off issuing the report as he was extremely concerned about its draft proposals.
He said that he feared its recommendations may not be accepted by shareholders.
A four-hour strike was averted at the 11th hour in March, just ahead of the St Patrick's weekend, over the pension deficit dispute.
The Expert Panel was appointed by Mr Varadkar when the strike threat emerged.
Former IBEC director Brendan McGinty, former IMPACT general secretary Peter McLoone, Eugene McMahon of Mazars, and Laura Gallagher of KPMG are members of the panel.