Iberia was always one of the most incompetently run airlines. Believe me, I have dealt with them at board level, and I would have expected more business "naus" from the owner of a West Midlands chip shop. But it seems their merger with BA is now a merger of equal incompetents.
According to press reports, Willie Walsh, British Airways’s chief executives, and top Iberia executives have drawn up a list of 12 candidates to buy or merge with once their own tie-up is finalised. The 12 targets, pared back from an initial list of 40, includes budget airlines as well as larger full-service carriers in several countries, including fast-growing emerging economies such as Brazil, India and China. Walsh will drive the combined group’s strategic direction, assuming the deal is completed by the end of this year as planned, and has already made clear that the new group would look at further consolidation.
So we have two groups that have gone backwards in the last few years (while the aviation industry as a whole has expanded). The decline of both airlines has been due to a failure to match or respond to low-cost airlines (a classic failure of strategy), forcing the two flag carriers into each others' arms to save costs through rationalisation.
At this stage you would expect them to be on the back foot and acting defensively. But no, Mr Walsh and his amigos have decided that the easiest way to turn their merged businesses back into the black is to take what is left of shareholders' cash and blow it on airlines operating on the other side of the world. Given Mr Walsh's lack of success in motivating his Anglo-Saxon workforce, I dread to think how he will deal with fractious bag handlers in Bangalore or Shanghai.