International Airlines Group (IAG) will support American Airlines as a standalone carrier or in a merger as it restructures under bankruptcy protection, says group chief executive Willie Walsh.
He says that the group is also keeping the possibility of an equity investment on the table as its Fort Worth-based Oneworld alliance partner evaluates its options, at the announcement of Qatar Airways' entry into Oneworld in New York on 8 October.
"If it were something that American felt was of value and something they would welcome, IAG would certainly look favourably on [investing in] the new American," says Walsh. "That would apply if it was on a standalone basis or in support of a decision that Tom and American would take to pursue consolidation."
American has signed non-disclosure agreements to exchange confidential information with IAG and suitor US Airways as part of its chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring.
The airline has vocally stated its preference to pursue a standalone business plan previously.
American continues to be noncommittal about the possibility of a merger. It is understood to be evaluating the possibility of combinations with Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Frontier Airlines and Virgin America as well as US Airways, which has vocally been pushing for a merger since the beginning of the year.
"Is there more consolidation to come [in the USA], we'll have to wait and see," says Tom Horton, chief executive of American, at the event. "I think there is an argument to be made for further consolidation."
Walsh has previously said that IAG would consider an equity investment in American and that he sees "merit" in a merger between American and US Airways.
Akbar Al Baker, chief executive of Qatar, adds that he may not be opposed to an investment from IAG one day. "Please keep some of your cash with you because maybe you can invest in us also," he says.