Ryanair has criticised plans by Aer Lingus to plug a hole in its pension scheme.

The no frills carrier, which has an 29.8% stake in its rival Irish airline, claimed the planned payment of between €170 million and €200 million was being wasted as Aer Lingus had no further liability to compensate staff for a pension deficit.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “As a public company, Aer Lingus should be run for the benefit of its shareholders and not to repeatedly enrich its 3,000 staff.”

He claimed that “despite paying over €400 million to its staff in exceptional payouts over the last six years, yet another €170 million to €200 million of shareholder funds is to be squandered on paying off a deficit in a defined contribution pension scheme and providing for annual increments which don’t exist in any other privately run company.”

Aer Lingus chairman Colm Barrington last week said a recommendation from the Irish labour court over the airline’s superannuation scheme involving one-off payments of €110 million and €30 million was “clearly a compromise that contains elements that are challenging for both parties”. A figure of up to €200 million was not mentioned.