Retired United Pilots May Taste A Younger Reality

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

For some of United's longest-serving now-retired pilots, the new math imposed as United tries to claw its way out of bankruptcy could translate next year to a loss of nearly one-quarter of their expected retirement income -- in some cases, more than $100,000 per year. United Air Lines' four pension plans are under-funded by $8.3 billion, according to The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. (PBGC), an insurer that expects to cover only $6.4 billion of that deficit and would leave the rest to be absorbed by 123,000 current and former United employees through benefits not received. If United's plans move forward, some retired pilots previously receiving pension payments on the order of $12,000 per month may see future checks arrive with one fewer zero (but closer to $3,300 per month). While the concept of a pension may be relatively foreign to entire generations of younger workers, that won't likely soften the blow to an older generation that based its retirement planning on continued income from a former employer. The adjustment would in part be due to a congressional cap that limits the amount the PBGC can pay to individuals. Those retired individuals falling closer to the cap would likely see their benefits less affected -- aside from perhaps finding as their new neighbor a retired pilot seeking more ... economically sensible ... surroundings.