1 November 2022, London Marriott Hotel County Hall
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
British Airways has increased its stake in Spanish national carrier Iberia to 13.5%.The UK flagship paid 67.3m for 28,745,767 shares at an average price of 2.34 per share.BA's previous stake in Iberia was 10.14%.Willie Walsh, BA's ceo, said: "This purchase reflects the strategic importance we attach to our relationshipwith Iberia and our continued confidence in its management. "We will consider further opportunities to increase our stake."The move comes as Air France KLM is in talks with Italian unions regarding its 138m take-over bid for Alitalia. (See news story: AF KLM seeks union approval for Alitalia take-over).BA has been a core shareholder in Iberia since the carrier was privatised.Spanish takeover rules prevent it raising its stake by more than 5% in any one year. A consortium led by BA and TPG, a Texas private equity firm which owns Sabre, the GDS and IT company, failed in a "friendly" bid for Iberia last year after other shareholders said they wanted the carrier to stay in Spanish hands.But as other major European airlines consolidate, Mr Walsh has been looking to expand BA. He had already indicated that he sees the smaller UK carrier bmi as a possible target.
EC to reform air traffic control
The EC is to present new plans to reform air traffic control in Europe.Jacques Barrot, the EC's transport commissioner, said he would announce plans to create large regional areas of air space over the EU.These would replace the current national boundaries for air traffic control.Mr Barrot told the London Financial Times: "We will propose functional blocs with dynamic frontiers on a regional basis.You cannot control airspace with national borders."He estimated the shake-up, along with new technology, would save airlines 4bn a year by 2020.Mr Barrot said the aviation industry, the EC and Eurocontrol were already investing in new technology which would replace speech contact between air controllers and pilots with electronically transmitted data.It would mean that three aircraft could fly in the space now occupied by one.But Mr Barrot said he was aware there was opposition to reform from countries which feared loss of sovereignty over their skies, possible threats to national secuirty and the loss of jobs. Air traffic c0ontrol costs Europe about 7bn a year and airlines lose up to 14bn in fuel while their aircraft are waiting for permission to land.Mr Barrot's new plans came after the Association of European Airlines (AEA) said a Single European Sky was "crucial" to the industry.Mr Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, the AEA secretary general, said the only reason to stop while driving from Amsterdam to Lisbon was for petrol."But when the same traveller chooses to fly for the same journey, he encounters a plethora of traffic control centres and different technologies governing communication between a great number of different national air traffic control agencies."When travelling internationally, we need the same efficiency in the air we have on the ground," he said.Aircraft were increasing their commitment to the environment through new technology and more efficient procedures.But Mr Schulte-Strathaus added: "Without a Single Sky, our ultra-efficient aircraft of the future will be delivering only part of their potential."