British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh is reported to have drawn up a “hit-list” of 12 potential targets as he seeks to build the world’s biggest airline group.
A low cost carrier is said to be among the unnamed “likeminded airlines” under consideration.
The speculation emerged as Walsh flew to Mumbai to tie up a code-share partnership with Indian carrier Kingfisher.
South American carrier LAN of Chile and TAM of Brazil – which are in merger talks – are being touted as likely partners for the umbrella International Airlines Group to be established to bring BA and Iberia together by the end of the year.
BA is already working to draw American Airlines into the fold, while other members of the Oneworld alliance are believed to also be on Walsh’s radar.
“Latin America is very much on our agenda,” Walsh reportedly said. “If there was an opportunity to include a South American carrier in our portfolio, we’d be very interested.
“We don’t want to limit our ambition. It could include a low cost carrier.”
Meanwhile, Slumdog Millionaire actor Dev Patel (pictured) launched BA’s new 777-300ER aircraft on Friday at Heathrow Terminal 5.
BA is the first UK operator to fly the 777-300ER, and will have six into service by 2012. Mumbai is the first destination to be served by the new aircraft.
Walsh said: “This is the greenest aircraft in our longhaul fleet, generating 15% less CO2 emissions per seat than the Boeing 777-200.”
The aircraft has a range of 7,600 nautical miles and will fly regularly to Mumbai, New Delhi, Dubai and Chicago.