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BA Moves to Reassure Australian Market After Asking Staff to Work for Free

By James Wilkinson

British Airways has reassured Australian travellers it remains committed to its double-daily London-Sydney flights despite reports it has asked staff to work for free to prevent the airline going under.

British Airways is commited to Sydney flights

In a message to staff around the world late last week, CEO Willie Walsh said British Airways was not alone in facing serious challenges from the global economic downturn.

“All airlines face some major challenges in the current economic climate, but at British Airways we have a plan in place to survive this downturn,” he said.

“Our Business Response Scheme has made headline news but, in fact, many other companies including Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and Finnair are already running similar schemes in response to the economic crisis.”

Walsh said British Airways was continuing to invest in quality products and services while driving out unnecessary structural costs and taking some short term cost-cutting measures, including reducing capacity, parking aircraft and, as publicised last week, introducing a voluntary scheme in which employees can opt to reduce their take-home pay.

“This isn’t a gimmick,” Walsh insisted. “We’re working hard to reshape our business to make it fit for the future.

“We have made it clear that the employee cost-saving initiatives at BA are all voluntary, and we’re pleased with the response we’ve had more than 3000 have already signed up. This highlights that many of our staff are willing to help the company through these difficult times,” he said.

And in a move to stimulate further travel to Bangkok, London and Singapore from Sydney, British Airways has launched a new return airfare to the British capital for just $1444 including taxes.

The fare is available for sale until June 26, 2009, for travel from now until October 31, 2009.