US - The US Senate has passed legislation that will give ailing airlines up to 20 years to repair their significantly underfunded pension plans.
The new legislation comes in addition to the seven years already provided by the bill to all companies to make up their pension shortfalls.
The bill was passed with a vast majority, with senators voting 97-2, and will no doubt come as welcome news to airlines, which have been pleading for a reprieve under the Pension Bill for some time.
American Airlines said it was “very pleased” with the bill, which it said would help preserve its defined benefit plans. “Passage of the Senate's pension bill is a huge step forward, and we urge the upcoming Senate/House conference committee to include the Senate's provisions in the final legislation, American Airlines said in a public release.
The airline has contributed in excess of US$1bn to the plans over the past four years, it said.
In 2005, American Airlines contributed a total of $310m to its defined benefit pension plans.
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