IAG has bid for part of Air Berlin but expects the German airline to go to Lufthansa.
Speaking at World Routes in Barcelona, group chief executive Willie Walsh says IAG “did put in a bid for part of Air Berlin”, but he thinks it unlikely that IAG will be selected.
“It comes as no surprise that it appears Lufthansa is going to get it. I don’t think it matters what price they were going to pay, it was going to be dressed up in a way that would make it look attractive to Lufthansa,” he says.
“In Italy, you had an Italian solution to an Italian problem with Alitalia and I think you’ve got a German solution to a German problem in Germany. It’s disappointing that we get political interference in what should be a commercial market. But we haven’t heard anything officially yet.”
Air Berlin's board of directors will discuss the bids today, before a decision is made public.
Meanwhile Walsh says that while IAG has no interest in participating in the restructuring of Alitalia, its low-cost unit Vueling is poised to capitalise on the uncertainty surrounding the airline.
“The commercial team in Vueling is looking at the opportunity to expand in Italy, serving the market to and from Italy,” he says. “There’s good opportunity because as the uncertainty about Alitalia continues, the more opportunity there is for airlines who are in there.”
Barcelona-based Vueling currently serves the Italian market through Rome.