IAG boss says 'very confident' of Brexit aviation deal

Walsh said there'll be a 'comprehensive agreement' on post-Brexit aviation (AFP Photo/Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS)

London (AFP) - Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways owner IAG, said Friday that he was "very confident" that London and Brussels would reach a "comprehensive agreement" on post-Brexit aviation.

Walsh, speaking at a relaunch of global airline alliance Oneworld, added that a chaotic no-deal Brexit would not deter passengers from flying.

"I remain very confident that we will see a comprehensive agreement between the UK and the EU on aviation," Walsh told journalists at the event in central London.

"I’ve seen nothing to suggest that confidence is misplaced."

He added: "Aviation has been one of the best successes of Europe and it will continue to be after Brexit; we will continue to see flights operating, and I think everybody is clear on that at this stage."

Questioned about the industry impact of a disorderly no-deal Brexit, he replied: "I don't think it’s going to have any impact on passenger numbers."

Walsh was also quizzed about the future of the A380 superjumbo, one day after its maker, European aerospace giant Airbus, revealed it was in talks with Emirates over a deal reached last year for 36 of its A380 jets, the world's largest passenger aircraft.

Media reports suggest that the Gulf carrier is considering converting some or all of the order to the smaller A350.

"I've no concerns about the A380. We are very pleased with the 12 A380s that BA operates. It's been an excellent aircraft for us," Walsh said.

The IAG boss however urged Airbus to be more "aggressive" on pricing.

"I've been very clear with Airbus that if they want to sell the aircraft they are going to have to be very aggressive on the price because there is great competition between aircraft manufacturers at the moment."

Walsh said that IAG was in "the late stages of negotiations" with Airbus, US aerospace giant Boeing, as well as engine-makers Rolls-Royce and GE, to get more wide-body aircraft to replace its ageing 747 jumbo jets.

"We have made it clear to Airbus that we might consider some additional aircraft but it would only be at a price that we would find attractive," Walsh said.

"We have not been able to reach that level that would encourage us to get new A380s."