*To ask the Minister for Public Enterprise the action she has taken to rectify the anomalies in the pension scheme for former Aer Lingus and Aer Rianta employees; and if she will report on discussions she has had on this issue with the Minister for Finance, the management of Aer Lingus or Aer Rianta and the trustees of the pension scheme.
- Nora Owen.
For PRIORITY answer on Thursday, 28th March, 2002.
Ref No: 10652/02 Lottery: 5
Answered by the Minister for Public Enterprise
The concerns of Aer Lingus and Aer Rianta pensioners about pension increases from the Irish Airlines (General Employees) Superannuation Scheme have been the subject of numerous representations and parliamentary questions over the past two years or so. I have met with representatives of the Retired Aviation Staff Association in relation to those concerns and senior officials from my Department also had meetings with the Association on a number of occasions last year.
In line with undertakings in Dail Eireann, I have raised the concerns of the pensioners with the Chairman of Aer Lingus and Aer Rianta and I have also contacted my colleague Mr Charlie McCreevey T.D. Minister for Finance who has overall responsibility for pension matters in the public sector.
The Chairmen of the companies concerned having examined the matter have advised me that neither Aer Lingus or Aer Rianta are in a position to provide additional funds into the pension fund to address the pensioners particular concerns. This is particularly so in the case of Aer Lingus given its current financial crisis.
I have however been advised that Aer Lingus and Aer Rianta are meeting all of their liabilities towards the pension fund in accordance with the rules of the scheme.
The Minister for Finance does not consider that it would be appropriate to accede to the request from the Retired Aviation Staff Association for an Exchequer injection into the Irish Airlines pension scheme and that there must be continued adherence to the longstanding policy in this area, namely that pension entitlements for employees of commercial State Bodies, including Aer Lingus and Aer Rianta, are a matter for the Trustees, the members of the relevant scheme and the companies involved.
I have not had any discussions with the Trustees of the Irish Airlines pension scheme. The general duties of the Trustees of a pension scheme are set down in the Pensions Acts 1990. It is a matter for the Trustees of a particular pension scheme to, inter alia, make arrangements for the payment of the benefits as provided under the rules of the scheme as they become due.