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British Airways owner eyes Tap as next target
April 9, 2012

British Airways’ parent firm has reaffirmed its interest in Portugal’s Tap airline if the country’s government sells the airline.

IAGInternational Airlines Group - the parent company of British Airways and Spain's Iberia which was created by the merger of the two carriers in 2010, which also owns Iberia, is due to complete its purchase of Bmi from Lufthansa later this month which will increase its number of slots at Heathrow to more than 50%.

Chief executive Willie Walsh admitted IAG’s interest in buying Tap last year as part of the company’s drive to further consolidate the European airline market and he reconfirmed this position in IAG’s annual report which was published last week.

"The only other airline we have expressed interest in is Tap Portugal, which may soon be privatised,” said Walsh in his report to shareholders.

“Tap has an extensive network into Brazil and Africa, two strategically important markets for IAG. If privatisation goes ahead we would want to look more closely, but there’s no guarantee we would bid.”

Another goal for Walsh is finding a domestic partner in China for the Oneworld alliance, which left it at a disadvantage to its major competitors – Skyteam and Star Alliance which already have Chinese member airlines.

“Continuing to develop the Oneworld alliance also remains key,” added Walsh. “One weakness we need to address is the fact that, unlike our two rival alliances, we lack a domestic partner in mainland China which we think is a necessity.

“Consolidation is not just about takeovers and mergers. It’s also about forming the right partnerships for the new realities we face as an industry.”

IAG has also been linked with taking potential stakes in fellow Oneworld members American Airlines and Japan Airlines (JAL).

American is still in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US while JAL came out of bankruptcy last year and is expected to file for an initial public offering (IPO).

“American Airlines had been attempting to restructure its cost base but decided to file for Chapter 11 to re-organise in an orderly way,” said Walsh.

“I believe this was the right decision and that it will emerge a stronger and better airline, and a stronger and better partner for us.”

Source :- http://www.abtn.co.uk/news/
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