Nearly 7,000 British Airways staff respond to 'fight for survival' appeal

British Airways employees have responded positively to chief executive Willie Walsh's 'fight for survival' appeal with nearly 7,000 staff signing up for voluntary pay cuts and work for no pay for up to a month in support of the airline's cost reduction programme.

Facing its worst financial crisis in history, Willie Walsh had put out an astonishing appeal to its nearly 40,000 employees to take voluntary pay cuts and work free for a month in July in order to keep the carrier afloat and save the carrier up to £10 million. (See: British Airways wants free one-month's work from employees)

The London-based airline said, ''Of the 40,000-strong workforce, 6,940 employees had volunteered for unpaid leave, part-time working or unpaid work by June 24. Their actions will save the company up to £10 million.''

Willie Walsh said, "This is a fantastic first response. I want to thank everyone who has volunteered to help us pull through this difficult period. This response clearly shows the significant difference individuals can make."

Nearly 17 per cent of the carrier's workforce has volunteered for unpaid work, part-time hours or unpaid leave, while more than 800 followed Walsh and the airline CFO Keith Williams' example of working free for a month.

In May, UK's flagship airline British Airways reported it's biggest ever loss since 1987, plunging to a pre-tax loss of £401 million from a record profit of £922 the previous year as the global recession took its toll with reduced passenger and cargo demand and high fuel prices last summer. (See: British Airways post biggest ever loss since 1987)

The airline, which was privatised in 1987, said that apart from lower passenger traffic and a 13 per cent drop in premium travel, an almost £3-billion fuel bill, made the UK flag-carrier plunge to staggering losses.