Willie Walsh mulls investing in Japan Airlines

LONDON, England - Willie Walsh, International Airlines Group's chief executive, says the company would consider investing in Japan Airlines when it returns to the stock market.

Willie Walsh mulls investing in Japan Airlines

LONDON, England – Willie Walsh, International Airlines Group’s chief executive, says the company would consider investing in Japan Airlines when it returns to the stock market.

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In an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest, Walsh, speaking from Tokyo, said “we might look at some equity participation if Japan Airlines floats again on the stock market, which is their intention at some stage over the next couple of years.”

A merge with British Airways or Iberia is not on the agenda due to restrictions on ownership and because it does not fit with present ambitions, Walsh said.

International Airlines Group was formed in January, and is the holding company of British Airways and Iberia. Walsh was previously head of British Airways.

Japan Airlines, known as JAL, emerged from bankruptcy administration Monday, with plans to be smaller and more focused on the Asia-Pacific region. It delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange following its entry into bankruptcy administration in January last year.

CNN’s Asia business analyst Ramy Inocencio reports that the airline’s intention is to relist in January 2013, but the date may be pushed back as passenger numbers drop after Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis.

Walsh’s comments come after the union representing many of British Airways’ cabin crew members said the employees had voted to strike. Walsh said the airline would use its contingency plans, which were well developed, if it faced industrial action. He did not elaborate on the plans.

On Monday Unite said 83% of the nearly 7,000 crew members who voted supported strike action. In a statement British Airways said talks with the union were continuing. It said the overwhelming majority of cabin crew wanted an end to the dispute and it was time for co-oporation not confrontation.

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