WestJet complains to ministers about Air Canada pension request

Tue Dec 18, 2012 2:07pm EST
 
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* WestJet went on lobbying blitz in November

* Air Canada's requests for special help concern its rival

* Air Canada wants extension on cap on pension payments

* WestJet met Flaherty, other ministers, top officials

By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA, Dec 18 (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd is concerned about special treatment for its main competitor, Air Canada, which is seeking leniency over a gaping pension fund deficit, and records show that WestJet launched a concerted lobbying campaign with the federal government over pensions.

Executives from WestJet, the country's second-largest airline, held a series of meetings on pension issues on Nov. 20-21 with four members of cabinet, including Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who is in charge of the Air Canada pension file. WestJet executives also met with numerous senior officials as well as lawmakers from the governing Conservative Party.

The meetings and the topic of pensions are recorded in the federal Register of Lobbyists.

Flaherty is considering a request filed by Air Canada for a 10-year extension to the cap on special payments it must make to reduce the deficit in its defined-benefit pension funds, which reached C$4.2 billion ($4.3 billion) at the start of 2012.   Continued...