September 23, 2019 / 9:51 AM / a month ago

Thomas Cook pensions to be assessed by Britain's lifeboat fund

Passengers are seen at Thomas Cook check-in points at Mallorca Airport after the world's oldest travel firm collapsed stranding hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers around the globe and sparking the largest peacetime repatriation effort in British history, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, September 23, 2019. REUTERS/Enrique Calvo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Pension Protection Fund (PPF) said on Monday it would assess the funding levels of Thomas Cook’s retirement schemes, following the collapse of the world’s oldest travel firm.

PPF is an industry-funded scheme set up to protect the pensions of employees in failing companies.

“We await notification that the associated schemes have entered PPF assessment,” a spokeswoman said in an emailed statement, adding PPF would protect the pensions of people on Thomas Cook’s defined benefit, or final salary, schemes.

After the assessment, which typically lasts about 18-24 months, the pensions could enter the PPF or the risk could be taken over by an insurer.

Thomas Cook pension schemes have in aggregate a surplus of 100 million pounds ($124 million) above levels needed to secure PPF benefits, a spokesman for the Thomas Cook pension trustees said.

“The trustees therefore are hopeful that the PPF lifeboat will, once the assessment period has ended, not be called on and benefits in excess of PPF levels will be provided from outside the PPF,” he said in an emailed statement.

Under PPF rules, existing pensioners receive their benefits in full. People under retirement age suffer a 10% cut to their pensions, subject to a cap which ensures they receive at least 50% of their entitlements.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; Editing by Rachel Armstrong and Edmund Blair

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