IAG to bid for Vueling?
The news was out this evening that IAG is considering a bid for the share of Vueling it does not yet control (here is the official communication on the website of the Spanish stock-market regulator).
We will have to wait until Friday to know the details, but it makes sense...IAG is heading to an attrition war with Iberia's unions over the creation of its new low cost subsidiary, Iberia Express (and after this week's court ruling, there is no solution in sight anytime soon). The "new" carrier is IAG's attempt to stem losses at Iberia, particularly in the short and medium haul network.
And while Iberia is in turmoil, and as I already noted here a few days ago, Vueling (that is 40% owned by Iberia) appears to be in good shape. Such an irony, because Vueling is already exploiting successfully the sort of hybrid model that Iberia Express was trying to bring to Iberia's short and medium haul network!
What next then?
As I said, it's early to say, the offer has not even been formalized, but things are getting interesting...
Could Vueling take progressively take over the Iberia Express project while Iberia focuses on the long-haul routes? After all, Iberia already had a "sister" company until the 90s, Aviaco, that was doing most of the domestic flights in Spain.
This option might not be good news for Barcelona airport, since there might be a risk, if Vueling "becomes Iberia" that the carrier will shift its focus away from its current base, where a major expansion is currently under way (or alternatively that it will split its fleet and network between Barcelona and Madrid).
Could the goal be merely financial, to consolidated the profitable Vueling operation in the not-so-good Iberia's accounts?
Is IAG planning to keep it as it is now, a stand-alone operation, while trying to extract more synergies and know-how from Vueling's experience in running a successful low-cost (or we should better say "hybrid") operation?
Let's wait until Friday to see whether anything new comes out of Iberia's results presentation!