International Airlines Group has confirmed it is considering buying a stake in oneworld partner American Airlines in order to protect the alliance.
IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said the move would allow the group – which operated the British Airways and Iberia brands – to extract “additional strategic value” from oneworld.
Taking a stake in the American carrier was also hinder any potential takeover bid by a rival as it undergoes restructuring during bankruptcy.
Delta Air Lines is reportedly considering a move for the struggling American Airlines-parent AMR, potentially damaging the oneworld alliance.
Any Delta deal would almost certainly see AA move into the SkyTeam alliance, which is dominated by Delta.
In an interview with the Financial Times Walsh added an investment in American “is something we are going to look at”.
“If we can make the case that there is additional strategic value to be achieved, then it is certainly something we are prepared to do,” he added.
Walsh has previously outlined a similar position with Japan Airline, another oneworld partner.
British Airways has a joint venture with American that operates long-haul flights over the North Atlantic – one of world’s most lucrative air travel markets in the world.