National Express DB pension deficit rises to £135m

The combined deficit for the National Express defined benefit (DB) pension schemes has increased by £45m over six months to £135m.

The coach operator’s DB deficit stood at £90m in December 2019 but has risen to £135m, as at 30 June 2020.

It operates two DB schemes, the West Midlands Bus scheme, which has a deficit of £142.7m, and the UK Group scheme, which has a surplus of £13.8m.

The UK Group scheme is closed to future accrual, while the West Midlands Bus scheme remains open to accrual for existing active members only.

There is a deficit recovery plan in place, with payments of around £7m per year, rising with inflation, until 2026.

National Express’ DB pension assets declined over the six months, from £14.2m to £13.8m, while its liabilities increased by £44.6m during the same period to £148.8m.

The firm operates both DB and defined contribution (DC) pension schemes, with subsidiaries in North America contributing to several DC schemes.

Pension operating costs for the six months to 30 June totalled £5.4m, up slightly from the £4.8m spent on operating costs in H1 2019.

Commenting within the report, National Express Group chief executive, Dean Finch, said: “This has been an unprecedented period for us all and I am very proud of the response of colleagues across National Express.

“Alongside the actions taken to secure additional liquidity, covenant waivers and our recent placing, the group has significantly strengthened its financial position to navigate the pandemic.

“The decisive actions taken by our management team have no doubt secured the group's continuing future.”

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