Qatar Airways remains on the hunt for a stake in discount carrier IndiGo to add to its portfolio of holdings after failing to buy shares of India’s largest airline at the time of last year’s initial public offering.
“I cannot force the owners to sell a stake to me,” Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said. “But if they are interested, Qatar Airways will be very interested.” IndiGo is controlled by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd.
The second-biggest Gulf carrier sought to acquire a holding in IndiGo via 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, Al Baker told reporters at the India Aviation air show in Hyderabad.
The disposal of a 10 percent IndiGo stake in October’s sale raised about 30 billion rupees ($449 million), valuing the airline at $4.2 billion and making it Asia’s third-largest low-cost carrier. Qatar Air 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 0.9 percent to 809.30 rupees as of 9:21 a.m. in Mumbai after jumping as much as 1.5 percent earlier on Thursday.
The Gulf airline itself hasn’t been granted the same traffic rights in India as local rivals Emirates and Etihad Airways — which has a stake in Jet Airways — and has raised the issue
with the authorities, Al Baker said.
Qatar Air has said it aims to make two investments this year. The Doha-based company already has a 10 percent stake in British Airways parent IAG SA and has signed an outline accord for an investment in Meridiana SpA, which operates out of Olbia, Sardinia.
The Italian deal will require job cuts, and other conditions will have to be met before it’s completed, Al Baker said, declining to elaborate. Meridiana could cut 900 posts, according to Italian newswire ANSA.
Qatar Airways Company operating as Qatar Airways, is the state-owned flag carrier of Qatar. Headquartered in the Qatar Airways Tower in Doha, the airline operates a hub-and-spoke network, linking over 140 international destinations across Africa, Central Asia, Europe, Far East, South Asia, Middle East, North America, South America and Oceania from its base at
Hamad International Airport, using a fleet of more than 150 aircraft.
Qatar Airways Group employs more than 31,000 people, of which 19,000 work directly for Qatar Airways.