British Airways announces record losses

Saturday, May 23, 2009

British Airways (BA), the flag carrier for the United Kingdom, announced record losses today. For the first quarter of the year ending March 31, the airline reported losses of £401 million before tax, despite revenues which rose to £9 billion over the previous year. The company’s finances have suffered from rising fuel costs and a weak pound. The loss also takes into account redundancy-related costs of £78 million: The company laid off 2,500 workers last year.

BA’s costs soared due to an unprecedented fuel bill of £3 billion following a 44.5% increase in the price of oil last year. The recent drop in oil prices has led the airline to announce an expected saving of £400 million in fuel by next year.

Company CEO Willie Walsh announced that employees will be offered the option of taking unpaid leave or working part time in order to ease the financial crisis. In order to set an example, he said that he himself would forego pay for the month of July, describing his move as “no stunt,” and added that he “saw no signs of recovery anywhere.”

Part of BA’s troubles over the last year could be due to the company’s dependence on the premium travel market. The company saw a drop of 13% in ‘Club’ and ‘First Class’ passengers. With two new aircraft on the way to operate a Club-only service from London, the company may struggle to fill the flights.

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