Alaska Air Group Inc., Seattle, plans to contribute a total of $49 million to its four pension plans in 2004, the company said in today's 10-K filing. Alaska Air recorded a net pension expense of $73.5 million on Dec. 31, up from the $40 million at the end of 2002, the filing said. Alaska Air lowered its discount rate to 6% in 2003, down from 6.75% in 2002; the expected rate of return on plan assets was 8% for both years. The plans increased their equity allocation to 65% in 2003 from 58% a year earlier and lowered fixed income to 34% from 36%; the balance of plan assets was in "other" classes.
The four plans had combined assets of $530 million at the end of last year, with combined liabilities of $805 million, according to the 10-K.