Qatar Airways shows interest to buy India’s IndiGo stake to expand ops

The Rs3,010 crore IndiGo IPO, which closed on 29 October, was subscribed 6.14 times, as financial institutions and high networth individuals sought to tap the world’s fastest growing aviation market through the issue. Photo: Mint

Qatar Airways reiterated it is keen to buy a stake in IndiGo, India’s biggest airline, to help the Doha-based company bolster its presence in the world’s fastest-growing aviation market.

The company, which signed a code-share partnership with IndiGo’s owner, Interglobe Aviation Ltd., on Thursday, first showed interest in acquiring a stake in 2015. Qatar Airways will still wait for a battle between IndiGo’s shareholders to end before it announces any decision, Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said in New Delhi. The company has no interest in buying the government’s stake in flag carrier Air India Ltd., he said.

A stake in an Indian carrier will help Qatar Airways to compete with its Middle Eastern rivals by expanding in a market where air-travel penetration remains low. IndiGo has emerged as the biggest Indian airline following the collapse of Jet Airways India Ltd. Last week, IndiGo ordered 300 narrow-body jets from Airbus SE — one of the European plane maker’s biggest ever deals.

India has been trying to sell Air India to help raise funds to bridge a budget shortfall. An attempt made to sell the carrier last year failed as no one showed interest in the airline.

“No, we are only interested in IndiGo,” Al Baker said when asked if Qatar Airways will be interested in buying state-run Air India Ltd.