BA would encourage closer ties with JetBlue: Walsh

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British Airways is interested in a closer relationship with US carrier JetBlue Airways following the recent tie-up between the low-cost carrier and Oneworld partner American Airlines.

Speaking to investors today, BA chief Willie Walsh described the American-JetBlue link as a "positive one", adding: "BA would like to be involved with that, and we'd like to develop a closer relationship with JetBlue."

American and JetBlue unveiled an interlining partnership in March, covering markets out of cities including New York.

Walsh says Oneworld's interest underscores the importance of New York JFK, notably in light of the transatlantic joint venture being created between American, BA and Iberia.

JetBlue has a strong presence at New York, he states, and would provide "very good feed" to the transatlantic joint business. "Equally we believe we could provide good feed from our operation into JetBlue," he adds. "The JetBlue terminal is very close to our terminals at JFK, so I think there is an opportunity for us to work together."

Walsh also expresses doubt over the benefit of JetBlue to Star Alliance carrier - and JetBlue shareholder - Lufthansa especially given the new merger between United Airlines and Continental Airlines.

"I'm not sureI just can't see the strategic value to Lufthansa of having that stake in JetBlue," he says. "I equally struggle to understand the strategic value to JetBlue of having Lufthansa as a shareholder. So there may well be opportunities for us going forward there."

Walsh says that he has already "made clear" to JetBlue that, if the carrier was interested in developing a relationship with BA, the UK airline would be "delighted" with the prospect, adding that Oneworld members would be "really pleased" if JetBlue considered possible membership of the alliance.