BA, Iberia want to lead airline sector consolidation: Walsh

30th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

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 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 the green light 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.

"We are creating an airline sector leader at a time when the process of consolidation is in course and is set to continue," said Iberia chairman Antonio Vazquez who is also the group chairman of International Airline Group, the new name for ther merged company.

The tie-up, on schedule to be completed in January, will create Europe's second-biggest airline by market capitalisation after Germany's Lufthansa, and fly about 60 million passengers a year.

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.

© 2010 AFP

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