Walsh: Transatlantic alliance is "positive" for industry consolidation

International Airlines Group's chief executive Willie Walsh believes the new alliance between Delta, Air France-KLM and Virgin is “positive” for the industry.

International Airlines Group (IAG) chief executive Willie Walsh has said that the new alliance between Delta, Air France-KLM and Virgin is “positive” for the industry because it helps to drive consolidation.

However, he stressed that it remains too early to assess the full impact the joint venture will have on the transatlantic market.

Speaking on a conference call following the publication of IAG’s interim results for the first six months of 2017, Walsh said: “Generally it's a positive because it does because it does boost the consolidation.”

As part of a series of deals, Delta, Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic will launch a combined long-term joint venture to offer customers “the most comprehensive transatlantic route network” as they try to fight back against LCCs, such as Norwegian and WestJet.

Walsh added: “I think it’s a bit early to comment on the deal but, as we see it, all it really signals in the short-term is a change in the public ownership of Virgin.

“We’ve said for a long time that the ownership of Virgin really doesn’t matter as it’s effectively controlled by Delta. I don’t see that changing.”

IAG reported revenues of €10.89bn in the six months to 30 June 2017, up 0.9 percent compared with the previous year. Passenger revenue rose by 0.4 percent to €9.58bn, while profit after tax nudged 2.3 percent higher to €567m.