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BA, Iberia ‘want to lead airline sector consolidation’

On Tuesday 30 November 2010, 12:50
EST

British Airways and Iberia want to lead the airline sector
consolidation with their multi-billion-euro merger, the chief
executive of the new holding company, Willie Walsh, said on
Tuesday.

“We don’t want to be on the sidelines, we want to lead the
industry’s consolidation,” he told a news conference in Madrid
a day after shareholders of both airlines overwhelmingly backed
a deal to create Europe’s second biggest airline.

The boards of the British and Spanish airlines agreed to the
deal — worth more than 6.0 billion euros (8.0 billion dollars)
— in April and EU competition regulators have also given their
approval for a full alliance.

The companies sought to merge as the global economic downturn
and the rise of low-cost airlines resulted in steep losses for
traditional carriers.

The merger allows the two carriers to catch up with rivals such
as Air France-KLM and Lufthansa, according to analysts.

BA and Iberia, which will continue to operate independently
under their own brands, said recently they have drawn up a list
that has remained secret of 12 firms which could be added the
newly merged group with the aim of creating the world’s biggest
airline.

“Our future is a multinational, multibrands airline group. We
look forward to welcoming further brands,” said Walsh, who is
also BA’s chief executive.

Iberia chairman Antonio Vazquez, who is also the group chairman
of International Airline Group, the new name for ther merged
company, said other airlines could be added through “alliances,
mergers or acquisitions”.

“We are creating an airline sector leader at a time when the
process of consolidation is in course and is set to continue,”
he added.

The tie-up, on schedule to be completed in January, will create
Europe’s second-biggest airline by market capitalisation after
Germany’s Lufthansa.

BA is set to benefit from Iberia’s strong presence in Latin
America, while the Spanish airline will gain from the British
carrier’s strength in North America.

Together the two airlines serve 205 destinations around the
world, operating 406 aircraft and carry 58 million passengers.

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