LONDON: Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways, has said he would like US giant Continental Airlines to join his company's alliance with American Airlines – and that he may be willing to apply for immunity from US antitrust laws to help the plan take flight.

BA and American are members of the Oneworld alliance, while Continental is currently part of the SkyTeam grouping with Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines.

A proposed merger between the latter partners, however, has prompted Continental to state that it may leave its current group. The Star Alliance, led by United Airlines, is mooted as another potential suitor.

Says Walsh: “Continental would be a great addition. But that's just one of several options I have no doubt Continental is considering at this time.”

“It's a great airline, has a great reputation, a strong brand and a good management team.” 
The Oneworld alliance previously applied for antitrust immunity in 1997 and 2001, but abandoned these efforts after being told they would have to give up some coveted landing slots at London's Heathrow

They now argue, however, that as many airports, including Heathrow, are now more competitive, they may consider applying again."

Walsh said: “We've got a completely different competitive landscape that we had six years ago. We've got a completely different economic environment.

"For that reason, it's right that we sit down and look at it again.”

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff