IAS 19, paras 142, 146, scheme assets including insurance policy and longevity swap, asset liability matching strategy

International Consolidated Airlines Group, S.A. – Annual report – 31 December 2021

Industry: airline

32 Employee benefit obligations (extract)

c Fair value of scheme assets

i Investment strategies

For both APS and NAPS, the Trustee has ultimate responsibility for decision making on investments matters, including the asset-liability matching strategy. The latter is a form of investing designed to match the movement in pension plan assets with the movement in the projected benefit obligation over time. The Trustees’ investment committee adopts an annual business plan which sets out investment objectives and work required to support achievement of these objectives. The committee also deals with the monitoring of performance and activities, including work on developing the strategic benchmark to improve the risk return profile of the scheme where possible, as well as having a trigger-based dynamic governance process to be able to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. The investment committee reviews the existing investment restrictions, performance benchmarks and targets, as well as continuing to develop the derisking and liability hedging portfolio.

Both schemes use derivative instruments for investment purposes and to manage exposures to financial risks, such as interest rate, foreign exchange, longevity and liquidity risks arising in the normal course of business. Exposure to interest rate risk is managed through the use of Inflation-Linked Swap contracts. Foreign exchange forward contracts are entered into to mitigate the risk of currency fluctuations. Longevity risk is managed through the use of buy-in insurance contracts, asset swaps and longevity swaps.

The strategic benchmark for asset allocations differentiate between ‘return seeking assets’ and ‘liability matching assets’ depending on the maturity of each scheme. At December 31, 2021, the benchmark for NAPS was 37 per cent (2020: 42 per cent) in return seeking assets and 63 per cent (2020: 58 per cent) in liability matching investments. Bandwidths are set around these strategic benchmarks that allow for tactical asset allocation decisions, providing parameters for the investment committee and their investment managers to work within. APS no longer has a ‘strategic benchmark’ as instead, APS now runs off its liquidation portfolio to a liability matching portfolio of bonds and cash. The actual asset allocation for APS at December 31, 2021 was 1 per cent (2020: 1 per cent) in return seeking assets and 99 per cent (2020: 99 per cent) in liability matching investments.

ii Movement in scheme assets

A reconciliation of the opening and closing balances of the fair value of scheme assets is set out below:

1 Includes employer contributions to APS of €1 million (2020: €2 million) and to NAPS of €nil (2020: €303 million) of which deficit-funding payments represented €nil for APS (2020: €nil) and €nil for NAPS (2020: €296 million).

2 The 2020 results have been restated for the treatment of administration costs associated with the Group’s defined benefit pension schemes. Further information is given in note 2.

iii Composition of scheme assets

Scheme assets held by the Group at December 31 comprise:

1 The scheme assets at December 31, 2020 have been re-presented to conform with the 2021 presentation. There has been no change in the overall fair value of the scheme assets.

The fair values of the Group’s scheme assets, which are not derived from quoted process on active markets, are determined depending on the nature of the inputs used in determining the fair values (see note 28b for further details) and using the following methods and assumptions:

  • Private equities are valued at fair value based on the most recent transaction price or third-party net asset, revenue or earnings-based valuations that generally result in the use of significant unobservable inputs.
  • Properties are valued based on an analysis of recent market transactions supported by market knowledge derived from third-party professional valuers that generally result in the use of significant unobservable inputs.
  • Alternative investments fair values, which predominantly include holdings in investment and infrastructure funds are determined based on the most recent available valuations applying the Net Asset Value methodology and issued by fund administrators or investment managers and adjusted for any cash movements having occurred from the date of the valuation and the reporting date.
  • Other investments predominantly includes: interest receivable on bonds; dividends from listed and private equities that have been declared but not received at the balance sheet date; receivables from the sale of assets for which the proceeds have not been collected at the balance sheet date; and payables for the purchase of assets which have not been settled at the balance sheet date.
  • Asset and longevity swaps – APS has a contract with Rothesay Life, entered into in 2010 and extended in 2013, which covers 25 per cent (2020: 24 per cent) of the pensioner liabilities for an agreed list of members. Under the contract, to reduce the risk of long-term longevity risk, Rothesay Life makes benefit payments monthly in respect of the agreed list of members in return for the contractual return receivable on a portfolio of assets (made up of quoted government debt, asset swaps and longevity swaps) held by the scheme. The Group holds the portfolio of assets at their fair value, with the government debt held at their quoted market price and the swaps accounted for at their estimated discounted future cash flows.

During 2011, APS entered into a longevity swap with Rothesay Life, which covers an additional 21 per cent (2020: 20 per cent) of the pensioner liabilities for the same agreed list of members as the 2010 contract. Under the longevity swap, to reduce the risk of long-term longevity risk, APS makes a fixed payment to Rothesay Life each month reflecting the prevailing mortality assumptions at the inception of the contract, and Rothesay Life make a monthly payment to APS reflecting the actual monthly benefit payments to members. The cash flows are settled net each month. If pensioners live longer than expected at inception of the longevity swap, Rothesay Life will make payments to the scheme to offset the additional cost of paying pensioners and if pensioners do not live as long as expected, then the scheme will make payments to Rothesay Life. The Group holds the longevity swap at fair value, determined at the estimated discounted future cash flows.

  • Insurance contract – During 2018 the Trustee of APS secured a buy-in contract with Legal & General. The buy-in contract covers all members in receipt of pensions from APS at March 31, 2018, excluding dependent children, receiving a pension at that date and members in receipt of equivalent pension-only benefits, who were alive on October 1, 2018. Benefits coming into payment for retirements after March 31, 2018 are not covered. The contract covers benefits payable from October 1, 2018 onwards. The policy covers approximately 60 per cent of all benefits APS expects to pay out in future. Along with existing contracts with Rothesay Life, APS is 90 per cent protected against all longevity risk and fully protected in relation to all pensions that were already being paid as at March 31, 2018. It is also more than 90 per cent protected against interest rates and inflation (on a Retail Price Index basis).