International Airlines Group (IAG) CEO Willie Walsh said IAG member airlines Level and Vueling are prepared to provide immediate additional capacity if Alitalia is forced to downsize and restructures further.

Speaking with ATW on the sidelines of an Airlines for Europe (A4E) event at the European Parliament in Brussels June 29, Walsh said Spanish low-cost carrier (LCC) Vueling, an IAG member airline, “has a significant operation in Italy and we will [also] operate our new long-haul LCC Level from Rome Fiumicino.”

IAG’s new Level airline launched flights from Barcelona June 1. “The passenger demand is absolutely fantastic,” Walsh said. “Level operates two Airbus A330s [and] three more aircraft are expected to join the fleet in 2018.”

Walsh said IAG is not interested in acquiring Alitalia.

“We had been very clear: any reduction of capacity [from Alitalia] as a result of [its] restructuring will be filled,” Walsh said, adding it would not possible for IAG to take over aircraft from Alitalia, saying nearly all of Alitalia’s aircraft are leased and mostly Irish-registered.

Responding to a question about IAG member airline British Airways’ plans to wet-lease nine Qatar Airways Airbus A320 family aircraft to fly its passengers during a planned 16-day mixed fleet cabin crew strike set for July 1-16, Walsh said “British Airways will continue flying. Where [there] are disruptions [by the strike], we [will] use capacity from other airlines like we did in the past.”

“We did it before and we [will] do it again. There is nothing new in this,” Walsh said. “We demonstrated [this] successfully on other occasions. When we say we operate, we operate.”

Kurt Hofmann, hofmann.aviation@netway.at