British Airways asks staff to work for free

June 17, 2009 3:43:57 AM PDT
The airline faces sharp quarterly losses as passenger numbers are declining.

British Airways is offering thousands of employees the option to take four weeks unpaid leave -- or they can work during that period -- without pay.

Last month, the company posted a record annual loss of $656 million.

Its chief executive declared at the time there were "absolutely no signs of recovery" in the industry.

"I'm 30 years in this business and I've never seen anything like this. This is by far the biggest crisis the industry has ever faced," said Willie Walsh, British Airways' chief executive.

British Airways employs just more than 40,000 people in the United Kingdom.

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