BA chief gives up a month’s salary and invites staff to take unpaid leave as losses announced

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh will work without pay for a month and has called on staff to consider taking unpaid leave, to counter huge losses announced last week.

On Friday (22 May) the firm announced an operating loss of £220m in its preliminary results to March 2009, compared to a £878m profit in 2008. To save costs during the “bleak trading environment”, Walsh has offered employees the chance to take unpaid leave and increase temporary or part-time working.

He will also forgo his £61,250 monthly salary in July in recognition of the “extremely tough” period the airline faces. The finance director will sacrifice a month’s salary, and management will go without bonuses.

Walsh, said: “We are offering staff the option of unpaid leave and temporary or permanent part-time working. We are also in talks with our trade unions about pay and productivity changes.”

Walsh added that the results for the year included £78m of redundancy-related costs. About 2,500 people have left the airline since summer 2008. British Airways employes 38,000 staff in the UK.

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