BA Ogles Qantas ... With Marriage in Mind

03 December 2008

LONDON: British Airways has made what it terms an "exploratory" move on Australia's Qantas with a view to merger. Should the marriage be consummated, the offspring would be a dual-listed global super-carrier generating £15.7 billion ($23.47bn; €18.44bn) in annual revenues.

It's uncertain whether BA's motives are those of a flirty teenager or a last-chance pensioner. The former would explain its concurrent courtship of Spain's Iberia, the latter its attempt to cement a transatlantic co-venture with American Airlines – now at the antitrust immunity stage.

There's also been much gossip within the airline industry that BA is also seeking a relationship with Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific. But BA chief executive Willie Walsh denies this, telling a reporter: "There are no proposals to do that."

Which is not quite the same as 'No way, José'.

As to a Qantas deal Walsh's response was more pragmatic than romantic: "The opportunity of creating the first global airline is one we have to look at. [But] there's still a lot of detail to go through."

Walsh was equally evasive as to how a merged BA-Qantas business might combine with Iberia in terms of corporate structure or personnel.

"It's not too difficult to do that," Walsh said. "Qantas have been aware of the discussions we have been having with Iberia. All the discussions with Iberia over structure and corporate governance have been done with the view of them being scaleable."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff