‘We would consider taking a stake in American Airlines if that is something that American would welcome,’ an IAG spokeswoman said yesterday.
Her comments followed a story in the Mail on Sunday, which cited IAG chief executive Willie Walsh as saying that IAG would be open to buying a stake if there were a strong strategic argument for investment, adding that any investment would be small.
A source close to IAG said the possibility of buying a stake in American was not linked to any bid by Delta.
American is seen as a target for Delta, and if such a takeover were successful, that would break up the oneworld alliance group and strengthen competition against IAG on transatlantic routes.
‘American Airlines is key to IAG's oneworld alliance, and IAG will do anything they can to prevent the likes of Delta or US Airways from grabbing it,’ said an aviation sector banker.
‘They could for instance offer to buy a 25 per cent shareholding in American, the maximum allowed under US law.’