* Aer Lingus says compromise challenging for all parties
* To be put to owners after talks with unions and trustees
* Minority shareholder Ryanair to oppose "daylight robbery"
* Aer Lingus shares up 2.8 percent
By Conor Humphries and Padraic Halpin
DUBLIN, May 31 Aer Lingus's board
backed a proposed 140 million euros ($183 million) one-off
payment to employee pensions on Friday under a deal to avoid
possible strikes at the Irish airline.
The deal aims to address a hole in a pension scheme which
employees at Aer Lingus share with other aviation industry
workers and which had a deficit of over 700 million euros at the
end of 2011.
"The recommendation is clearly a compromise that contains
elements that are challenging for all parties," Aer Lingus
Chairman Colm Barrington said in a statement.
The proposal will be put to Aer Lingus shareholders
following talks with unions and pension fund trustees, and will
be implemented if staff and union members also agree, Aer Lingus
Low-cost airline Ryanair, which owns 30 percent of
Aer Lingus and this year failed in a third takeover attempt,
opposed the pension pay-out, as expected, but acknowledged it
did not have enough votes to block it alone.
"How many times are the board of Aer Lingus going to roll
over when their staff and unions threaten industrial action
unless they get paid off again and again," Ryanair Chief
Executive Michael O'Leary said in a statement.
"We believe this is blatant mismanagement by a board which
is controlled by, and panders to, government and unions and does
nothing to protect shareholder funds ... Ryanair will oppose
this latest 'daylight robbery'."
Britain's Competition Commission is to rule by July on
whether to force Ryanair to sell its stake in Aer Lingus due to
Aer Lingus shares, which have been weighed down in recent
years by the threat of a large pension payout, were trading 2.8
percent higher at 1.59 euros by 1110 GMT.