MIDDLE EAST: Gulf Air potential target for BA megagroup

Gulf Air is believed to be one of up to a dozen potential takeover targets for a new massive airline group being crafted by British Airways (BA) following the final regulatory stamp of approval for its US$7.6 billion merger with Spain’s Iberia Lienas Aereas de Espana and its joint venture with American Airlines. Last week, […]


Gulf Air is believed to be one of up to a dozen potential takeover targets for a new massive airline group being crafted by British Airways (BA) following the final regulatory stamp of approval for its US$7.6 billion merger with Spain’s Iberia Lienas Aereas de Espana and its joint venture with American Airlines. Last week, International Airline Group (IAG), the joint airline created by the merger, announced that they had identified 12 other airlines that had the potential of being incorporated into the group. But the Bahrain national carrier’s CEO Samer Majali, while denying BA had been in contact said that it would “consider positively at the appropriate time” joining an alliance of airlines, adding that the carrier is currently in discussion with other carriers on joining an alliance. “Yes, we are actively looking to join an alliance. Joining an alliance provides Gulf Air an immediate virtual extension to the member airlines’ vast network and vice-versa,” Majali said, according to the Gulf Daily News. “A central element of our long-term strategy is to join an alliance and we are actively looking for a suitable partner to support Gulf Air’s business model and add value to the airline and vice-versa,” Majali said. “With Iberia, we have had a number of meetings where we have looked at airlines around the world and identified those that would be attractive to us in joining IAG,” said the group’s CE designate, Willie Walsh, who previously served as CEO of British Airways. The 12 carriers reportedly targeted for the new super-alliance is also said to include Qantas, Cathay Pacific and Air Berlin and there is speculation that it could also include India’s Kingfisher Airlines and Chile’s LAN, which has recently announced plans to merge with Brazil’s TAM. BA and Iberia have reportedly initially considered 40 airlines, but pruned the list down to about a dozen. The creation of IAG is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Among the current alliance line-ups, Star Alliance has 28 member airlines including Air China, Air Canada and Turkish Airlines; SkyTeam has 13 member airlines including Delta Airlines, KLM and Aeroflot Russian Airlines and, as well as Royal Jordanian, Oneworld boasts Australia’s Qantas, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific, British Airways and its partner Iberia, the flag carrier of Spain, amongst its members.