Union 'disappointed' after asking ex-BMI boss to plug gap in defunct airline's pension scheme
A UNION has claimed an ex-boss of defunct airline BMI has refused a request to help former staff resolve ongoing pension problems.
The British Airline Pilots' Association (Balpa) said it had approached Sir Michael Bishop, now Lord Glendonbrook, to help workers receive their full pension.
Last year, Castle Donington-based BMI was bought by International Airlines Group (IAG) and was merged into the operations of British Airways, which IAG also owns.
Balpa said that, as a result of the change of ownership, some former BMI staff could now receive just a third of their pension.
The union said this was because the pension scheme was placed into the Pension Protection Fund, which puts a cap on the amount pensioners can receive.
Lord Glendonbrook was previously a majority shareholder at BMI but sold his stake to the German airline Lufthansa in 2009. Lufthansa then sold the airline to IAG.
Lufthansa voluntarily contributed £84 million to top-up the pension fund but Balpa claims this is not enough to plug the shortfall.
The union said it wanted Lord Glendonbrook, who reportedly made about £250 million from the sale of BMI, to make a contribution.
But, in a letter from the Conservative peer's solicitors, he has said he does not consider it "appropriate" for his former employees to look to him to match Lufthansa's contribution.
Balpa general secretary Jim McAuslan said: "We are very disappointed in this response.
"Sir Michael Bishop was an extremely successful airline boss and was rewarded handsomely when he sold his shares to Lufthansa.
"But the staff of BMI have been significantly penalised by the scheme entering the Pension Protection Fund. It is unjust and unfair for our members to pay such a heavy price so shortly after the airline's former boss received such a large payment."