The boss of Spanish low-cost carrier Vueling does not expect the takeover by British Airways’ parent IAG to change the airline.
Vueling chief executive Alex Cruz told Travel Weekly: “I’m very encouraged by what Willie Walsh has been saying. He understands you risk weakening a brand by interfering.”
Former BA boss Walsh heads IAG, the holding company of BA and Iberia, which secured control of Vueling last month. IAG previously held a 46% stake.
Cruz said: “What Vueling brings to IAG is a low-cost operating platform, profitability and the possibility to grow.”
He suggested: “There will be three separate brands and three separate strategies.
Barcelona-based Vueling has a fleet of 70 aircraft and flies to 110 destinations around Europe, with an increasing emphasis on business traffic.
Cruz said: “IAG will look at synergies. But there probably won’t be too many synergies with Vueling. We are at a different stage in our life.”
He insisted: “I don’t foresee interference to change the culture of Vueling. I don’t expect a tremendous amount of IAG-induced change in the short to medium term.
“I’m encouraged by the comments IAG made before the transaction and since. They understand why Vueling is successful and I believe they will support our growth.”
Vueling’s profitability is in stark contrast to Iberia which dragged IAG into a €630 million loss in the first quarter of the year.
Asked about Iberia, Cruz said: “A tremendous amount of time and effort is being put into restructuring the airline.
“The traditional airline model no longer works in short and medium-haul, so we see every airline making changes. What the outcome will be I can’t say.”
He insisted Vueling would continue to grow despite “adverse conditions in Spain”.
“I could see us doubling our fleet,” he said. “But only if we keep to our basic premise which is a low cost base and increasingly better service.”
Cruz does not envisage Vueling joining BA and Iberia in the Oneworld airline alliance.
He said: “It is very unlikely we would join Oneworld at the moment. We would have to meet its criteria for dealing with other airlines.
“We would join Oneworld if we could join with a set of conditions that do not penalise us. Until then, we won’t do it.”
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