An expert panel has recommended that the Dublin and Shannon Airport Authorities should increase their pension contributions for low-paid staff and those nearing retirement.

It is hoped such a move will break the deadlock between management and unions over new pension arrangements following the freezing of the previous joint Aer Lingus/DAA/SAA pension scheme.

However, it is unclear whether the revised proposals will have increased cost implications for the airport authorities.

Some months ago, Aer Lingus unions accepted proposals for a new defined contribution (DC) scheme.

However, unions had rejected the DAA/SAA proposals on the basis that they delivered lower benefits than the Aer Lingus package.

Both companies have given employees until next Sunday to sign up to the new scheme.

An expert panel, which reported on the dispute last July, was asked to re-assess the DAA/SAA situation and today issued an updated report.

It recommended staff retiring before 30 June 2018 should receive an extra 7% lump sum to their new DC pension fund.

Those retiring between 30 June 2018 and 31 December 2026 should have their lump sum increasd by 3.5%, it said.

The ongoing employer pension contribution should be enhanced by 1%, it added.

The panel said staff earning less than €40,000 should receive a minimum employer pension contribution of 8% provided the employees paid 5% into the fund.

They too would receive an additional 1% employer pension contribution.

For all other categories of staff, the contribution terms of the previous Labour Court ruling were retained.

In addition, the DAA/SAA would be liable for all administration fees for the new pension fund.

The panel also proposed that physical fitness and medical testing should commence on 1 September for airport police and fire service personnel.

The document said unions would ballot on the proposals by 10 April and make it clear to members that this outcome was the absolute best that could be achieved in negotiations.

A DAA spokesperson said the authority was studying the xxpert panel’s report.