How did the mighty British Airways wind up asking staff to work for free?

STRANGELY enough British Airways&rsquo; (BA) many problems began at the end of the 2006-07 financial year when it posted record results of &pound;922m. <br /><br />Until then banks were happy to pay &pound;4,000 to fly across the Atlantic.<br /><br />But the recession meant that business and first class fares from London to New York &ndash; BA&rsquo;s lifeblood &ndash; have dropped to around &pound;1,100 as seat sales plummeted almost 20 per cent. As a result it posted a full year loss this year of &pound;401m, its largest in 25 years.<br /><br />This led chief executive Willie Walsh to say the airline was in a fight for its &ldquo;survival&rdquo;. Some observers say this doom-laden talk is designed to prepare unions for more cuts to come and to soften up governments for the mergers with Spain&rsquo;s Iberia and American Airlines, which the airline so desperately wants.