Qantas chief says he’s not interested in a BA merger

City A.M. Reporter
Australia’s Qantas Airways is not keen on reviving merger talks with British Airways and is instead focused on chasing organic growth in Asia, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said yesterday.

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh is keen on reopening merger talks with Qantas if the Australian carrier was interested. “Been there, done that,” Joyce told reporters when asked about Walsh’s remarks. “We are not interested. We are more focused on the Asia market and organic growth there.”

BA and Qantas, then under chief executive Geoff Dixon, held merger talks in 2008, but Qantas called off discussions over a disagreement on the airlines’ relative valuations.

Dixon’s successor, Joyce, now wants Qantas to use its strong balance sheet to lead consolidation in the Asia-Pacific region.

Joyce said the airline was not in merger talks, but its low-cost subsidiary, Jetstar, was talking to “multiple partners” in Asia where it was actively looking to expand. Ownership restrictions in Asia are forcing Jetstar to explore joint ventures in region. It is 51 per cent owned by Singaporean businessman Dennis Choo.