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BA planned job cuts essential to firm's survival

BRITISH Airways's proposed 3,700 job cuts are vital to the company's survival as it faces the "eye of the storm" ravaging the airline industry, CEO Willie Walsh said yesterday.

Walsh told shareholders at BA's annual general meeting that costs must be reduced to keep the company viable. The proposed job cuts, to be made by next March, would come on top of the 2,500 positions that have already been axed since last summer.

The airline also wants to freeze the pay of staff for two years, part of drastic expenditure cuts, as the global economic downturn eats away at demand for air travel.

"There is no point trying to skirt around the fact that we need a fundamental and structural change to our employee cost base," Walsh told investors and employees in London. "These changes are essential to our short-term survival and, more importantly, to our long-term viability."

Pilots for the airline voted on Monday to accept a 2.6 percent pay cut as part of a package of measures to save BA some 26 million pounds (US$41.9 million).

But baggage handlers and check-in staff are opposed to the cost-cutting plans.


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