CEO Willie Walsh from the IAG, the International Airlines Group is ready for further airline acquisitions and low-cost carrier partnership. Speaking at the Airport Operators’ Association (AOA) UK Aviation Conference at the Hilton Metropole in London earlier this week, Walsh declared IAG has “no problem” working with budget carriers, as long as customers want it and the commercial terms are right.

He said the group, which bought Aer Lingus in August for 1.4 billion euros, is in the market again. “We would like to collect a few more (airlines) and there is ambition in IAG and we have been heartened from the success of the acquisitions of BMI, Vueling and Aer Lingus.

Walsh added that If the right opportunity presents itself, IAG will be open and ready, but not actively
pursuing it at the moment. We are being actively contacted by governments and airlines keen for us to take on these challenges,”

As for cargo, he says freighters will struggle to get slots if either airports are expanded. IAG Cargo has stopped using freighters and Walsh says it has no intention of changing this strategy.

“Going forward our focus is on belly hold and it is a more efficient way to move cargo. We are not going to be interested in dedicated all-cargo aircraft as we do not think it is sustainable as the available due to the available space that exists in belly hold on passenger aircraft.” Walsh adds.

In respect of building a new runway in the South East of UK, Walsh declared that plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport are much too expensive. “We have concerns about the costs of Heathrow. I do not think it is relative and the cost is outrageous and I cannot see it justified and we are not prepared to pay to support it.”

Nevertheless he continues by stating the economic case for expanding Heathrow is stronger than a second runway at Gatwick Airport and adding : “It is not the answer to build a runway at Gatwick and Heathrow as there would be wasted capacity if both are built. The demand does not exist for a runway at each.“