Qatar Airways, IndiGo deny buzz of Air India stake purchase talks

Qatar Airways and IndiGo have denied a media report, which said two airlines will jointly bid for Air India.

“Qatar Airways firmly denies that it is involved in any talks regarding the acquisition of Air India,” the airline said in a statement on Wednesday.

" While IndiGo normally does not respond to rumours,  in this particular instance we would like to state that there are no ongoing discussions of this nature," IndiGo said. 

Last year, Qatar Airways chief executive officer Akbar Al Baker announced plans to start a domestic airline in India – a move which would give the Gulf airline a wider access to the fast growing aviation market. 

While Al Baker had previously also denied interest in Air India, speculation has remained rife that the Gulf airline would make a bid for the airline.

Earlier this month he told Reuters that the airline is going through a labourious process of legal requirements before applying for operational permit in India. Al Baker said that Qatar Airways will have atleast 100 planes in India.

IndiGo is the only airline, which has expressed interest in acquiring Air India but insisting that it was more interested in the airline's international operations.

IndiGo is the largest domestic airline with a market share of over 39%.

Tata-Singapore Airlines combine too is said to be evaluating a bid for Air India while Jet Airways too has held discussions with its partners – Air France-KLM and Delta regarding stake purchase.

The government is likely to relax the eligibility criteria for Air India disinvestment by allowing airlines with negative net worth to bid. 

However, non-airline companies may be told to satisfy minimum net worth conditions to prove their financial strength. 

The evaluation committee of Air India, after discussions with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, had suggested that all bidders be mandated to fulfil a minimum net worth criterion, a source said. 

However, when the Core Group of Secretaries on Disinvestment (CGD) met over the last two weeks to finalise the bidding norms, some members pointed out that setting high net worth as an eligibility condition would block theprospects of many airline companies. 


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