IATA: AirlInes want mergers, settle for joint ventures

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Two influential chief executives have reiterated the industry’s view that network joint ventures are an inferior substitute to allowing proper mergers, and called for the scrapping of ownership restrictions that have blocked such moves.

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh noted that the trans-Atlantic joint venture British Airways has with American Airlines has been positive, while it is also looking to implement a similar arrangement with Qatar Airways.

Nevertheless, he said during a panel discussion at the IATA AGM in Doha that they are far from optimal.

“The joint venture is a poor substitute but it is the only one that is available to us today,” he adds.

JetBlue chief executive David Barger called for the abolition of international ownership restrictions as they are “so out of date.”

"Allow the open market to settle the winners around the world," he adds.

Walsh says that later this year the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development will hold a meeting to discuss the competitive issues around such joint ventures, but suggests that ownership restrictions are the bigger issue.

“Instead of them meeting to discuss whether joint ventures are anti-competitive, it would be better to decide if ownership and control regulations do have their place in this world,” he adds.