UK - British Airways has postponed the closure of its final salary scheme until April next year.
The move follows a high-profile meeting between BA’s pensions officers and unions over the structure of its trustee board.
But BA’s decision to extend the life of the £9.8bn New Airways Pension Scheme – which is suspected to hold a £1bn deficit – has caught unions and a pensioner pressure group off guard.
The Transport & General Workers’ Union had expected the scheme to be replaced by a new defined contribution scheme this autumn.
Delays in the closure of the NAPS are coupled with further enhancements to its members with BA making technical pilots’ stopover allowances pensionable.
This follows revelations earlier this month that BA was making ground staff’s shift pay pensionable – a move which BA chief executive Rod Eddington has since said reflects an “anomaly” in the scheme rules.
But British Airways Pensioners’ Association chairman George Bell said BA must come clean over why it is giving benefit enhancements and why it has decided to delay the closure of NAPS.
He said: “What concerns me is that we have a pension scheme that is to be closed because it is too expensive and now BA is enhancing the benefits and making the scheme more expensive to run.
“It seems bizarre why you would want to improve the benefits of these schemes.”
T&G pension officer Peter Smith agreed that it was strange that BA are looking to enhance benefits to a scheme which are being closed because of costs.
But he added that these improvements are something that the T&G have been pressing for a long time and are backed by the unions.
“The fragmented negotiating structure means that these issues are passed in dribs and drabs. Ground staff managed to negotiate their shift pay being pensionable, now it is the turn of the technical pilots,” he said.
BA declined to comment.
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