Qatar Airways remains on the hunt for a stake in the discount carrier IndiGo to add to its portfolio of holdings after failing to buy shares of one of India’s largest airlines at the time of last year’s initial public offering.
“I cannot force the owners to sell a stake to me,” said Akbar Al Baker, the chief executive, on Wednesday.
“But if they are interested, Qatar Airways will be very interested.” IndiGo is controlled by InterGlobe Aviation.
The second-biggest Arabian Gulf carrier sought to acquire a holding in IndiGo through the Qatar Investment Authority during the IPO, overcoming a bar on direct involvement from another airline, but didn’t have time to obtain necessary approvals, Mr Al Baker said at the India Aviation air show in Hyderabad.
The disposal of a 10 per cent stake in IndiGo during October’s sale raised about 30 billion rupees (Dh1.65bn), valuing the airline at about Dh16bn and making it Asia’s third-largest low-cost carrier. Qatar Airways has long been keen on a stake in the only Indian airline to make a profit in each of the past seven years as it seeks more exposure to one of the world’s fastest-growing travel markets.
IndiGo shares rose by 0.9 per cent to 809.30 rupees in Mumbai during morning trading after jumping as much as 1.5 per cent earlier.
The Gulf airline itself has not been granted the same traffic rights in India as its local rivals Emirates and Etihad Airways, which has a stake in Jet Airways, and has raised the issue with the authorities, Mr Al Baker said.
Qatar Air has said it aims to make two investments this year. The Doha-based company has a 10 per cent stake in British Airways’ parent, IAG, and has signed an outline accord to invest in Meridiana, which operates out of Olbia, Sardinia.
The Italian deal will require job cuts and other conditions will have to be met before it is completed, Mr Al Baker said, declining to elaborate. Meridiana could cut 900 posts, said the Italian newswire Ansa.
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