IAG's Willie Walsh: Leaving the EU 'not the right approach' for deal-making

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Airline supremo Willie Walsh has said UK politicians could “do a lot more to influence politics in Europe” and deal-making, instead of questioning Britain's place in the Union.

Walsh, who has been involved in EU regulation battles as chief executive of BA and Iberia-owner International Airlines Group, said the union was “good for business generally, but my personal experience of dealing with politicians at a European level is not positive.”

He rejected Ukip policy, however, saying: “The right approach is for politicians to try to change Europe from within. Leaving [the union] is not the answer.”

IAG axed more than 3000 jobs at Iberia, and its effect was evident today as IAG slashed its first-quarter loss to €150 million (£122.6 million) from €589 million a year earlier.

BA’s share was €5 million, down from €72 million last year, as more passengers packed its new Dreamliner and A380 jets. “The London economy remains buoyant, and across the world the general economic environment is better than we would have expected,” Walsh added.

But he dismissed hopes for aviation expansion in the South-East, despite Heathrow yesterday appointing a new chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, to spearhead its push for a third runway.

 “The more things change, the more things remain the same,” Walsh said. “The stumbling block to expansion is a lack of political consensus, and I haven’t seen anything to suggest we’re getting closer to it.”