BENEFITS MANAGEMENT

Alaska Airlines freezes DB pension plan for nonunion salaried workers

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Alaska Airlines Inc., Seattle, froze its defined benefit pension plan for nonunion salaried employees on Jan. 1, confirmed Chris Berry, managing director, investor relations.

The plan was closed to new entrants in 2004 and is more than 100% funded. It had about $311 million in assets as of Dec. 31, 2012, according to its most recent Form 5500 filing. Mr. Berry declined to provide updated asset sizes for individual plans.

“Ultimately, we would like to derisk (the plan) further and possibly annuitize it in the future,” Mr. Berry said in a telephone interview. He added the only immediate plans are to shift more assets into fixed income from equities.

Alaska Airlines does not plan on making any contributions in 2014 to its four pension funds, which have a combined $1.8 billion in assets. The plans were 104% funded at the end of 2013, up from 82% a year earlier. The airline contributed $620 million over the past five years, including $83 million last year. All four plans are closed.

Kevin Olsen writes for Pensions & Investments, a sister publication of Business Insurance.

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