By Andy Sambidge
Gulf airlines reportedly in talks to acquire minority stake in Indian low cost carrier
Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways are reportedly in talks to acquire a minority stake in low-cost Indian carrier SpiceJet.
According to a report by India's Business Standard, which cited sources familiar with the development, the Gulf airlines are mulling the move as the Indian government considers allowing overseas airlines to invest in domestic carriers.
When asked about the potential deal, a SpiceJet spokesperson told the paper: "Some foreign carriers have expressed interest in picking up a stake in SpiceJet if there would be a change at the policy level by the government.
"Various investors have approached SpiceJet and we are in talks with them. As of now, we have not finalised any deal but if everything goes well, we may enter into a mutually beneficial deal."
Although foreign investors can invest up to 49 percent in Indian carriers, the Indian government has banned foreign airlines from investing.
With 41 planes, SpiceJet operates more than 275 daily flights to 34 Indian cities and three international routes including Dubai.
Separately, Dow Jones Newswires reported on Thursday that Emirates Airline may consider investing in an Indian carrier but only if it gets management control.
It quoted Majid Al Mualla, senior vice president, commercial operations, for West Asia and the Indian Ocean as saying: "For Emirates, as for any other airline, I think it's important, we are involved in the decision-making in terms of which route we are supposed to go, adding or closing stations [destinations], adding or reducing manpower."
Al Mualla also said Emirates' revenue from the West Asia and Indian Ocean region, led by India, grew more than 20 percent in the year ended March 31, and is expected to grow at a similar pace in the current year.
Emirates flies more than 330 weekly flights to the region, of which 185 are to India.