Qatar Airways has said it is not in the race to acquire a stake in Jet Airways. The development comes ahead of a lenders’ meeting that could discuss a resolution plan for the carrier, which is in the midst of a financial crisis.
Reuters quoting the CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar al-Baker, said the airline will not buy a stake in Jet Airways as a substantial portion of the latter is held by Etihad, whose owner Abu Dhabi is an “enemy’’ of Qatar.
“We would definitely look at it (Jet Airways) if a 24 per cent stake was not held by Etihad… How can I take a stake in an airline which is owned by our adversary,” he said.
He added that while Qatar Airways would be keen to take a stake in IndiGo, it would not do so in an airline (Jet Airways) where “substantial ownership is by the enemy of my country’’. Abu Dhabi had cut ties with Qatar in 2017 over allegations of supporting terrorism. The latter has, however, denied the charges.
The statement comes on the eve of a lenders’ meeting that will discuss the resolution plan for Jet Airways. The airline owes a little over Rs 8,000 crore to a consortium of lenders led by the State Bank of India.
It is understood Etihad will bring in fresh equity that will see its stake rising to almost 49 per cent in Jet Airways. The development could see promoter Naresh Goyal’s stake coming down to a little over 20 per cent from 51 per cent and Goyal stepping down from the board.
Shares of Jet Airways on Tuesday settled marginally lower at Rs 293.70 on the NSE against the previous close of Rs 294.45. More than 4.20 crore shares of the airline changed hands on the bourse.
Qatar Airways posted a 252 million riyal ($67.18 million) loss for the financial year ended March 31, 2018, as it lost access to 18 destinations.
As part of a broader effort to diversify its portfolio outside its home market, the Qatari carrier purchased a 10 per cent stake in Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd in 2017 and 5 per cent in China Southern Airlines Co Ltd this month.
Qatar Airways also remains interested in starting a fully owned airline in India, al-Baker said on January 15, but that is not allowed under India’s current foreign investment rules.