BRUSSELS Feb 8 British Airways and Iberia owner
IAG is looking to offer low-cost long-haul flights from
airports other than Barcelona in its efforts to compete on
IAG said late last year it would start budget flights to
U.S. destinations in June, using its budget short-haul brand
Vueling, which has its hub at Barcelona's El Prat airport, to
feed passengers to the longer routes.
"This is the start of something that will be a significant
part of IAG...We think Barcelona is a great place to start,"
IAG's chief executive Willie Walsh said on the sidelines of an
aviation conference in Brussels.
Rival low-cost carriers Norwegian Air Shuttle and
Wow Air are stepping up transatlantic flights, while IAG rival
Lufthansa has also started budget long-haul flights
using its Eurowings brand.
Walsh said the changes in the competitive landscape had
encouraged IAG to look at new operating models.
"It's good to see how consumers have responded to the
customer proposition that he (Norwegian CEO Bjoern Kjos) has put
in the market and that's encouraged us to look at doing
IAG would start selling tickets for the new Barcelona routes
"very soon", Walsh said, without specifying when.
The company's new budget operation would not be operated by
Vueling, which is focused on short-haul, nor would it use the
Aer Lingus name because that brand is not as well known outside
of Ireland, Walsh said.
Separately, IAG was not planning to change its hedging
policies despite the fall in the value of the pound since
Britain's vote to leave the European Union which forced it and
other carriers to lower profit expectations, the CEO added.
(Writing by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Alexander Smith)