British Airways and the Spanish airline Iberia have drawn up a shortlist of up to 12 airlines, which they hope to buy or merge with, once their own tie-up is completed.
BA chief executive Willie Walsh did not name any of the airlines potentially involved.
However, they are reported to include carriers in emerging markets such as India or China.
He made the comments in Mumbai while unveiling a code-sharing deal with India's Kingfisher Airlines.
The BBC reports Mr Walsh is keen to bring airlines together under the umbrella of the newly-created International Airlines Group - formed by BA and Iberia.
"We have had a number of meetings where we have looked at airlines around the world and identified those that would be attractive to us," he said.
However, not all 12 on the list would be pursued.
BA failed in an attempt to merge with Qantas in 2008.
JLS Consulting analyst John Strickland says the aviation industry is in the doldrums in Europe and airlines must look to emerging markets, like India and China, for growth.