Nearly 7,000 BA staff agree to work for freeUnions at BA were reacting angrily last week when chief executive Willie Walsh announce that 40,000 staff would be asked to work without pay for a month.

However, nearly 70,000 British Airways staff have now volunteered to work for free, or take unpaid leave to help save the struggling company. Record pre-tax losses had prompted the move, which was hailed as an early success by Willie Walsh:

“This is a fantastic first response. I want to thank everyone who has volunteered to help us pull through this difficult period.

“This response clearly shows the significant difference individuals can make.” Walsh said.

CEO Willie Walsh and finance director Keith Williams had already announce they wouldn’t receive any salary for the month of July.

Several options were made available for staff who could volunteer between one and four weeks unpaid leave, or some unpaid work with the pay being deducted over three or six month, as well as switching to part time.

BA also plans to add more options to the programme later in the year.

The move should already save the company 10 million pounds, and more cost cuts are expected, with the deadline for unions Unite and Bassa (the cabin crew union) to agree on change to pay and benefits, and discuss potential job cuts.

Unions had already agreed a deal with BA for pilots to take BA shares in return for a pay cut to save most jobs. This would save the company in excess of 16 million pounds.