September 07, 2012
British Airways (BA) parent International Airlines Group (IAG) says it is “talking to a number of airlines about alternative options for us” after long-time partner Qantas ended its joint business agreement with BA after 17 years in favor of a new deal with Emirates Airline.
“We are ending the joint business on amicable terms and support Qantas’s decision to work with Emirates,” IAG CEO Willie Walsh says in a statement. “The world has changed since 1995, when the joint business started.”
Walsh adds that Asia has become a key market focus for IAG, particularly for BA, and that the end of the Qantas relationship “fits in with changes in our global strategy.”
IAG itself has not ruled out cooperation with Emirates, Etihad Airways or Qatar Airways, and Walsh in particular has made no secret of his admiration of what these carriers have achieved in recent years.
But while there has been considerable talk about Qatar joining BA’s Oneworld alliance, the Middle East carrier’s CEO, Akbar al Baker, has made clear that he has no concrete plans for such a move.
IAG is not the only carrier considering such a partnership. SkyTeam co-founder Air France is negotiating a code-sharing agreement with Etihad that also could include Air Berlin, in which Etihad holds a 29% stake. Etihad also owns 10% of Virgin Australia.