Responding to reports that it was finalizing a commercial agreement with Qatar Airways, budget Indian carrier SpiceJet said it is in the very early stages of speaking to potential investors, but that any specifics were “complete speculation.”
This week, the Economic Times reported that Qatar’s national carrier and SpiceJet were in early talks to make a deal that would make Doha’s Hamad International Airport a transfer hub for the Indian airline.
In return, Qatar Airways would get an increased seat entitlement to the subcontinent. The airline uses almost all of the more than 24,000 seats per week it is currently allotted, and has previously asked for that number to be tripled.
The carrier and its Gulf competitors have all been trying to make inroads into the Indian market.
In 2013, Etihad Airways bought a 24 percent stake in Jet Airways, and since then rumors have circulated and then been debunked about other potential tie-ups between the GCC airlines and Indian carriers.
Responding to the latest reports, a senior SpiceJet executive told the Business Standard that the carrier is not in any hurry to sell a stake in its company, and called any talk about taking investment from Qatar Airways “complete speculation.”
However, according to Reuters, the company did confirm that it was talking to some potential investors, but declined to name them:
“Since the deliberations with such prospective investors are at an exploratory and preliminary stage it will be improper to comment on the specifics of any possible stake sale or the valuation of the company at this stage,” SpiceJet said.
Qatar Airways has not publicly commented on SpiceJet rumors, but in May, its CEO Akbar Al Baker expressed interest in buying a stake in competition IndiGo:
“We’re not in talks, we have a personal relationship between us and the owner of IndiGo,” Al Baker said at the time.
“He has indicated they are not planning to sell a stake in Indi-Go, but once they consider he knows I’m interested.”