BA turbulence as staff asked to work for free

<div>THERE was further turbulence at British Airways (BA) yesterday after the airline asked its 40,000-strong staff to work without pay, as the company &ldquo;fights for survival&rdquo;.<br />&nbsp;</div>
<div>The flag carrier is desperately seeking to cut costs, having made record losses of &pound;401m for 2008.<br />&nbsp;</div>
<div>Airlines across the globe are struggling as they deal with a slump in premier traffic and last year&rsquo;s surging fuel prices. But BA is also weighed down by its massive pension deficit, thought to be around &pound;3bn. The airline&rsquo;s market capitalisation is about &pound;1.8bn.<br />&nbsp;</div>
<div>BA has offered staff the option to take unpaid leave, work fewer hours, or to work for free &ldquo;from one week upwards&rdquo;.<br />&nbsp;</div>
<div>&nbsp;&ldquo;Staff have until 24 June to volunteer for unpaid work,&rdquo; a spokeswoman for BA said. She added that salary cuts would be spread over three to six months.<br />&nbsp;</div>
<div>BA&rsquo;s chief executive Willie Walsh and chief financial officer Keith Williams have said they will work for free in July.<br />&nbsp;</div>
<div>&ldquo;Walsh can afford to work for a month for free,&rdquo; a spokesman for the Unite union said yesterday. &ldquo;Our members can&rsquo;t.&rdquo;&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;</div>
<div>BA remains in union talks.</div>