In a statement the two airlines say negotiations are supported unanimously by the boards of both companies. They expect talks to take several months. Under the plan the two carrier brands would be retained as part of a combined group.
BA chief executive Willie Walsh says: “The aviation landscape is changing and airline consolidation is long overdue. The combined balance sheet, anticipated synergies and network fit between the airlines make a merger an attractive proposition, particularly in the current economic environment.
“We’ve had a successful relationship with Iberia for a decade and are confident that both companies’ shareholders would benefit from the proposed tie-up.”
Iberia chairman and CEO Fernando Conte adds: “We’ve worked together for nearly 10 years and a tie-up would build on that success. It would also strengthen the Oneworld alliance and further develop Madrid’s position as the European gateway to Latin America.”
BA has been an Iberia shareholder since 1999 and recently increased its stake in the Spanish carrier to 13.15%. Iberia meanwhile has today announced it has acquired a direct 2.99% stake in BA and holds financial exposure to a further 6.99%.
The carriers add they are confident of securing regulatory approval, noting they already have EU approval to co-operate widely.
Source: flightglobal.com's sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news