British Airways owner IAG confirms interest in takeover of Norwegian

640px-Norwegian_Air_UK_Boeing_787-9_Dreamliner_G-CJUL_ _taxiing_at_John_F_Kennedy_International_Airport

The company already operates the Aer Lingus, British Airways, Vueling and Iberia airlines.

British Airways owner International Airlines Group (IAG) confirmed this morning it is mulling a full offer for low-priced carrier Norwegian. IAG now owns 4,6 percent of Norwegian, a stake it may have bought in order to initiate discussions, the sources said.

IAG considers Norwegian to be an attractive investment and has acquired a 4.61 per cent ownership position in the airline (minority investment). IAG said no such talks have taken place so far and that it has not yet made a decision to make an offer.

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BA's owner has been eyeing a greater share of long-haul routes, launching low-priced airline Level last June, flying from Barcelona to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Buenos Aires and Punta Cana.

Norwegian shares rose by 40% in early trading upon the news. IAG has faced stepped-up competition in the lucrative long-haul market from budget operators such as Norwegian. "Norwegian believes that interest from one of the largest worldwide aviation groups demonstrates the sustainability and potential of our business model and global growth". 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.

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