BA chief Walsh to head merged BA-Iberia airline

British Airways Plc (BA) chief executive officer Willie Walsh, is to take charge of the expanded airline created by BA's merger with Spain's Iberia. The 49- year old, Walsh is expected to report the UK carrier's first profit in two years.

According to analysts the carrier's net income may touch £158.6 million in the three months ended 30 September as against a year-earlier loss.

The London-based carrier last posted a profit in August 2008, just ahead of the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc that triggered a premium-class travel slump.

Meanwhile, both Air France-KLM Group and Deutshe Lufthansa AG have raised their forecasts, helped by a traffic rebound.

Walsh is using an alliance on trans-Atlantic flights with AMR Corp's American Airlines to take on the carrier's biggest European rivals.

Six months back the carrier suffered a series of cabin-crew strikes and the closure of European air space due a cloud of volcanic ash.