BA chief exec turns down £334k bonus

WILLIE WALSH, the British Airways (BA) chief executive, was the only senior level member of the airline to turn down a bonus last year, as the airline faced increasing financial losses and industrial action launched by cabin crew.

Walsh, who was in line to receive a £334,000 bonus awarded in shares, declined to accept it after he felt it would be “inappropriate” in light of circumstances prevailing at the time.

Information contained within the airline’s 2009-10 annual report also showed that Walsh’s salary has been frozen at £735,000 since 2008.

He took a pay cut last year after waiving his July pay because of the airline’s dire financial state. He was paid £674,000.

However, chief financial officer, Keith Williams, took home £582,000 last year, including a £167,000 bonus.

“The financial performance of our business is linked to the general strength of the economies in the UK and across the world. We have had to cope with the deepest downturn in the global economy in 60 years,” said Williams.

BA’s revenue fell by 11 per cent last year to £7.9bn, as passenger income dropped by £856m or 10.9 per cent.

Pre-tax losses for the airline passed £500m last year as a result of growing pension costs and interest.

As BA struggles to return to profitability, the airline has frozen staff pay for a third year in a row at the same time recommending that it holds off making a dividend payment to shareholders.

BA took an estimated £150m hit as a result of the 15-day industrial action launched by cabin crew through May and June. The airline is now facing another potential set of crippling strikes during the July travel period as Unite prepares to ballot staff again. The dispute is over pay, working conditions and staff perks.