BA pensions boss quits as deficit grows

THE chairman of British Airways’ pension schemes yesterday bowed to pressure and resigned over a perceived conflict of interests.

As revealed by City A.M., Roger Maynard faced calls to quit in November because he was a key figure in the merger between BA and Iberia, sitting on the boards of both airlines as well as representing the interests of BA’s pensioners.

Maynard had previously been backed by the pension trustees and BA chief executive Willie Walsh, who described him as “one of the most honourable people I’ve met”. However yesterday BA said it had asked him to step aside.

The move was welcomed by the Occupational Pensioners’ Alliance, which supports BA pensioners. A spokesman said he was “delighted” that BA had “done the right thing”.

The news of Maynard’s resignation came as BA revealed a mammoth £3.7bn shortfall in its Airways Pension Scheme and New Airways Pension Scheme. The figure contrasts with the last triennial review in 2006, when the total gap was around £2bn.

BA currently pumps £330m a year into its retirement funds. It has until 30 June to agree a fresh recovery plan with its trustees.

BA said any new deal would have to be signed off by the Pensions Regulator. The airline added: “The regulator’s provisional view is that the technical provisions may be materially below a level it feels to be appropriate.”

Iberia appeared to have been kept informed throughout the valuation process. A spokesman for the Spanish firm said the deficit figure came as no surprise to senior management.

Douglas McNeil, analyst at Astaire Securities, said: “£330m is already a substantial sum to be putting aside every year. But BA is in good economic health at the moment.”