British Airways harbors hope for unlikely merger with QantasBritish Airways, which is currently merging with Spain's Iberia Airlines, is already eying 12 other merger opportunities in its bid to expand service to Asia.

One of those potential partners could be Qantas Airways, Australia's most famous airline and a major carrier to the Asia-Pacific region. In 2008, the two companies had considered a merger, but the deal collapsed before any agreement could be reached.

"I would be surprised if Qantas was not one of the 12 because the two together could generate big synergies and Asia is where the growth is," Davy Stockbrokers analyst Stephen Furlong told Reuters.

"We have done the work in our discussions with [Qantas] two years ago and we know there is a strong case there. It is definitely something that would be interesting in the future if Qantas were like-minded," Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways, told the Australian Financial Review.

Qantas, however, seems content to remain independent.

"We have not had talks with BA on potential mergers since December 2008," a Qantas spokesman said. "We enjoy a strong relationship with both BA and Iberia, both bilaterally and as OneWorld partners."

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Qantas is "off-limits" for British Airways' merger plans. The Australian airline is more focused on its own low-cost offshoot, Jetstar.
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