I propose to take Questions Nos. 12 and 42 together.
The Deputies' questions relate to the Irish airlines superannuation scheme, IASS, and its relationship with the proposed sale of the Government's minority shareholding in Aer Lingus. The pension deficit in the IASS, the multi-employer scheme involving Aer Lingus, the Dublin Airport Authority, DAA, and SR Technics, was not a factor in the Government's decision to sell its minority shareholding in Aer Lingus. The State's minority shareholding is not considered to be a strategic asset and the Government has decided to include it as part of its disposal of State assets programme.
As the Deputies will be aware, the McCarthy report also recommended that the Government dispose of its shareholding in Aer Lingus "as soon as is opportune". The exact timeframe for any sale has not been decided and it will only take place when conditions are favourable and at an acceptable price.
Full information concerning Aer Lingus's pension schemes was set out in the IPO prospectus prior to the flotation in September 2006. Regarding the IASS, it stated that based on that last actuarial valuation of the scheme with an effective date of 31 March 2005, the scheme had a surplus of assets over liabilities in the region of €140 million. As the Deputies are aware, a great deal has changed in the financial markets since 2005 and the IASS now has a substantial deficit. This is clearly very worrying for the members and I urge all parties with an involvement in the matter to address the matter expeditiously.
There is no question of the taxpayer funding this deficit. Resolution of the funding difficulties in the scheme is a matter for the trustees, the companies participating in the scheme and the members. I understand that the parties are participating in discussions with the assistance of the Labour Relations Commission, LRC, in an effort to find a solution to the current difficulties. The Department is not a party to these discussions.