British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh believes its merger with Oneworld partner Iberia marks only a first step in the group's development and that it is positioned to take advantage of further consolidation opportunities if they arise.
The carriers in April firmed their merger plans, under which BA and Iberia will remain separate operating companies under the International Airlines Group holding company, and moved a step closer at the end of last month by signing a merger plan document.
Speaking to the Aviation Club in London yesterday, Walsh said: "The objective we set ourselves at the beginning was to create an entity that was capable of being scaleable. The intention is be in position to take advantage of opportunities as they avail themselves.
"We are not targeting anything in particular, but we want to be in position do so if an opportunity arises. IAG is not about putting BA and Iberia together, but about creating a platform to create a global carrier."
Walsh also reiterated the carrier's determination to grow and exploit opportunities at other hubs, such as Madrid, where there are fewer capacity constraints than at London Heathrow - particularly since the new UK Government opted to scrap a third Heathrow runway.
"We all know there are constraints in aviation growth in the UK. The Government has taken its decision, and we respect it," says Walsh. "Our planned merger with Iberia will give us the scope to grow at Madrid.
"It is very clear, in creating the new entity, we are also committed to growing. We need to recognise that scope for growth in London is limited. If we can't participate in growth at London, the [demand] growth is not going to stop just because the London runways are full."