Embattled BA boss declines annual bonus: company

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British Airways announced Thursday that its chief executive Willie Walsh has turned down his annual bonus for the second year in a row as the loss-making airline seeks to save cash.

BA said in its annual report that Walsh had declined to take his bonus worth 334,000 pounds (404,000 euros, 487,500 dollars), adding that no-one would receive cash bonuses for the second successive year.

The struggling airline published the 2009/2010 report as cabin crew returned to work after staging the latest wave of strikes in a long-running dispute over pay and working conditions.

BA, which is cutting costs and merging with Spanish rival Iberia in an attempt to return to profitability, has been slammed by the global economic downturn which curbed demand for air travel.

"I regret that we found ourselves at loggerheads with very valued members of staff at a critical time," Walsh said in the report on Thursday.

"When we have had the chance to explain our proposals directly, many understand what our agenda is really about -- to secure jobs in the airline and put the business on a footing where it can achieve the growth it needs to survive long-term.

"They understand that, without change, British Airways will just shrink and shrink and shrink.

"I genuinely believe it is unfair to say we looked for confrontation. We negotiated these changes over the course of a year and tried repeatedly to answer concerns raised by our staff."

Walsh added: "Our position is clear. We've done some excellent work with the unions over the years and we're happy to work with them. But we can't let them stand in the way of the progress that's needed to make our airline's future more secure."

Since March, BA has suffered 22 days of strike action, costing the company 154 million pounds, according to estimates from the Unite trade union.

Although the third wave of strikes ended on Wednesday, more action is widely expected to be announced unless a resolution to the dispute can be agreed.

The strikes were initially called over working conditions but the two sides have now resolved their differences on that issue but disagreement on the company's removal of travel perks from striking staff remains to be solved.

© 2010 AFP

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