TORONTO — Just days after Norwegian Air put its plans for transatlantic flights out of Canada on hold, comes word that British Airways’ parent IAG could be looking to buy the airline.
British Airways’ parent company said Thursday it is considering making an offer for the low-cost carrier.
International Airlines Group says it has acquired 4.61% of Norwegian Air Shuttle “to establish a position from which to initiate discussions, including the possibility of a full offer for Norwegian.” IAG already operates LEVEL, a low-cost carrier out of Spain. With LEVEL’s launch IAG now has five main airline brands, including Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling.
IAG says no official discussions have taken place, and the company emphasized that it hasn’t decided whether it will make an offer.
Shares in Norwegian Air jumped 37% on the news.
Norwegian Air Shuttle has rocked the long-haul market with offers like US$140 tickets from Edinburgh to New York.
Here in Canada, Norwegian Air filed with the Canadian Transportation Agency to possibly start transatlantic flights from this market starting summer 2018, however on Tuesday it was reported that the airline has pushed back plans for a possible Canada launch until at least spring or summer 2019 due to aircraft delivery delays.
In a statement, the Oslo, Norway, based company said it had “no prior knowledge of this acquisition,” adding it had “not been in any discussions or dialogue with IAG about the matter.”
“Norwegian believes that interest from one of the largest international aviation groups demonstrates the sustainability and potential of our business model and global growth,” it said.
For months there has been talk of a possible LCC alliance between Ryanair and Norwegian. Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary has said he has no plans to expand Ryanair’s operations across the Atlantic but the airline has been in talks with Norwegian about a possible partnership that would see Ryanair piggyback on Norwegian’s long-haul routes. Ryanair is now the biggest European airline in terms of passengers flown – or at least it was until 2017, when a snafu with pilot holiday time schedules led to the cancellation of thousands of flights (and Lufthansa Group grabbed the title).
With files from The Associated Press