British Airways, one of Europe’s biggest airlines, has asked staff to work for free next month as part of what management describe as a battle for “survival”.
The company has seen revenues plummet amid a downturn in the air travel industry. In an internet address, the chief executive painted a grim picture. Willie Walsh said: “There’s no way, absolutely no way, this business will exist in two years’ time if people look at it as a temporary downturn. This business will not survive.” BA’s biggest problem is a sharp fall in first class and business passengers, a crucial market for the company. It is currently in talks with staff on broader pay cuts and redundancies. Walsh, who received a 6 percent pay increase last year, is foregoing his pay next month. He asking staff to do the same or take unpaid leave. Transport industry analyst Simon Calder said: “I reckon they’re thinking – what can we do to persuade our staff, not just to work the odd week for nothing but to take pay cuts, to renegotiate all the terms and conditions, which are some of the most favourable in the aviation industry, so that we can properly compete with the likes of Easyjet and Ryanair.” Walsh, who received a 6 percent pay increase last year, is foregoing his own pay next month. He is asking staff to do the same or take unpaid leave.