British Airways today launched what it believes to be the biggest employee share save scheme of its kind in the world.
Letters are going today to 60,000 employees in 81 countries offering them the opportunity to save towards shares in the company. The airline believes this is the most widely available such scheme ever offered by a business anywhere in the world. Previously only those British Airways employees based in the UK could participate in its own SAYE share schemes.
Today`s announcement supports the company`s long-term aim of increasing the proportion of its equity owned by its employees. Currently some 87 per cent of its workforce own a total of 4 per cent of its shares. This already makes them the third biggest owner of the company.
Letters were sent today to eligible employees from Bob Ayling, the airline`s Chief Executive, giving details of the new scheme. He said today: “We believe firmly in involving our people in our business. British Airways is a truly global company, with 60 per cent of our business from overseas - and that is set to rise to 80 per cent by the millennium. Our workforce in the UK and abroad make a huge contribution to our global success. That is why we are making this special opportunity to invest in the success of our company as widely available as we can.”
British Airways hopes to offer employees the chance to sign up for the save-as-you-earn scheme every two years for the next decade.
Those taking part will put aside a sum between £5 and £100 a month for three years. After this period, they will qualify for a tax-free bonus equivalent to three times their monthly saving. They can then use this sum to buy shares in British Airways at a special option price set in January 1998 with a 20 per cent discount. Alternatively, they can take their savings plus the bonus in cash, or use just part of the sum towards shares.