by B. N. Sullivan
British Airways and Spanish flag carrier Iberia have signed a final merger agreement. Today's agreement will implement terms set forth in a memorandum of understanding signed by the two carriers in November of 2009. The merger is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
According to a press release issued by Iberia, the merger will create a new holding company called International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, which will be known as International Airlines Group. Both airlines will retain their current operations and operate under their individual brands - British Airways and Iberia. The merged carrier will operate a fleet of 408 aircraft flying to 200 destinations.
Airline officials said that the merger "will benefit both airlines’ shareholders, customers and employees," and "has been structured so that it can take advantage of further consolidation in the global aviation industry." Although such consolidations often result in work force reductions, no announcements have been made regarding staffing levels going forward.