British Airways and Iberia have drawn up a shopping list of up to 12 airlines which they hope to buy or merge with once their own tie-up has been completed.
BA chief executive Willie Walsh did not name any of the airlines on the shortlist but these are thought to include Qantas, South African Airways and Finnair, at least one low-cost carrier, believed to be AirAsia, as well as carriers in emerging markets such as India or China.
Walsh made the comments in Mumbai while unveiling a code-sharing deal with India’s Kingfisher Airlines.
The airlines would be brought together under the umbrella of International Airlines Group (IAG) – the holding company formed by the merger of BA and Iberia.
“We have had a number of meetings where we have looked at airlines around the world and identified those that would be attractive to us,” he said.
Walsh is thought to be keen to achieve full mergers or acquisitions rather than taking minority investments in other airlines. However he noted that the shortlist served to give IAG “focus” and that all 12 would not be pursued.
“We have not had any discussions with any airlines. There is nothing going on at the moment.
“We want to create a platform for like-minded airlines – those who believe that consolidation is part of the answer for the industry.”
In 2008 BA failed in an attempt to merge with Qantas.