Qatar Airways says in talks for IndiGo stake

After Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways acquired a major stake in Jet Airways, another Gulf-based airline, Qatar Airways,  in talks for taking a stake in India's biggest airline, IndiGo, that would help expand the Gulf carrier's foothold in one of the world's fastest growing aviation markets.

The Doha-based airline also denied news reports that it was holding discussions for a "commercial stake" or engage in a "partnership" with low-cost carrier SpiceJet.

"Qatar Airways confirms that the only airline it is talking to is the Indian carrier, Indigo," the carrier said in a statement.

Gulf-based carriers, including Qatar Airways have long coveted a stake in IndiGo, the fast-growing airline owned by InterGlobe Aviation, which last month filed a draft prospectus for a stock market listing.

Qatar Airway's chief executive Akbar Al Bakr had, in May, said the airline would be interested in buying up to 49 per cent of IndiGo, although he said then that there had been no talks. He also said IndiGo's owners had no immediate plans to sell.

Privately-held IndiGo is forecast to have made a record profit of between $150 million and $175 million in the year ended March 2015, making it India's most profitable carrier, according to Delhi-based aviation consultancy CAPA.

Gulf-based carriers are keen on expanding into India, partly because of the millions of Indians living in the Gulf region and also because of the growing air travel between the two markets.

Qatar Airways is also trying to is catch up with rivals Emirates and Etihad, which owns a stake in India's Jet Airways, in terms of frequency of services to the country.

Meanwhile, another Indian carrier SpiceJet said on Friday it was in preliminary talks with potential investors who have shown an interest in putting money into the airline but it did not say who the potential investors were.

Dubai's budget carrier Flydubai, which was widely expected to be looking for a stake in an Indian carrier, however, said it was not in talks with SpiceJet.