Air Transport World

United Airlines.(North America report)

United Airlines will seek waivers from the US Internal Revenue Service to permit it to stretch out mandatory payments to all four of its US defined benefit pension plans over a five-year period. Resolution of the pension funding issue is viewed as critical to the airline's being able to attract an equity partner to help it emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

United noted that its pension plans were approximately 100% funded "on a current liability basis" as of Jan. 2002 but by Jan. 2003 they were funded at just over 70%. Government regulations require that companies with such shortfalls must make significant, accelerated contributions to their plans, which would place a big burden on the bankrupt airline. …

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