Trustees of the Airways Pension Scheme (APS) will not make a firm decision on whether to appeal the Court of Appeal's judgment on discretionary increase payments until September.
While the British Airways (BA) scheme has served a ‘Notice of Appeal' with the Supreme Court, showing an intention to bring the case before the higher court, the trustees are erring on whether an appeal would be an appropriate use of members' funds.
The Court of Appeal in July ruled the trustees had acted for an improper purpose when both granting a 0.2% discretionary increase to members in November 2013 and unilaterally introducing a power allowing them to do so. This overturned a High Court judgment, handed down in May last year, which found the trustees had followed due process when making the decision.
Following the Court of Appeal's judgment, the trustees were given permission to appeal to the Supreme Court but, at the time, the trustees said this was to "keep our options open" while taking advice. A decision was expected to be made by 16 August.
Now, in a circular to members, the trustees have said the decision will not be made until the first half of September, noting that they may have to seek a separate court verdict on whether an appeal is appropriate.
"We may decide to ask the court to confirm whether or not our decision is appropriate, including (if we decide to continue with an appeal) whether scheme assets could be used to fund an appeal and to meet BA's costs should an appeal be unsuccessful."
The Association of British Airways Pensioners (ABAP) lambasted the slow process. In a communication to members, it said the "oddly"-made decision was "outrageous".
"You can rest assured the ABAP committee is taking all steps necessary to protect APS beneficiaries' interest in the event that a clear-split APS trustee board decides to withdraw from an appeal to the Supreme Court."
The delay comes after APS members demanded a meeting with trustees to gain an explanation of their appeal decision process. More than 100 members sent letters to the board requesting the meeting, which requires 35 days' notice and will most likely be held after the board has made its decision.
The trustees added they were "aware of the strength of feeling about this matter" and so would keep members updated.
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