Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar al-Baker said on Tuesday that the airline will not buy a stake in Jet Airways. He said a substantial portion of the equity in the Indian carrier is held by Etihad Airways, which is owned by the United Arab Emirates, an “enemy” of Qatar, Reuters reported.
UAE had in 2017 cut ties with Qatar, alleging that the kingdom supports terrorist activities. UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain banned Qatar Airways since June of that year.
“We would definitely look at it [investing in Jet Airways] if a 24% stake was not held by Etihad,” al-Baker told Reuters on the sidelines of an aviation conference in Mumbai. “How can I take a stake in an airline which is owned by our adversary?”
Al-Baker said Qatar Airways would be “delighted” to purchase a stake in IndiGo, another private Indian carrier. “But not in an airline where substantial ownership is by the enemy of my country,” he said.
According to a news report on Monday, Etihad Airways is set to increase its stake in the loss-making Jet Airways to 49%. Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal is likely to step down as chairperson of its board of directors this week, and reduce his stake in the struggling airline from 51% to 20%-25%.
Qatar Airways suffered a loss of 252 million riyal (Rs 477 crore) for the 2017-’18 financial year as it lost access to 18 destinations following the dispute with four other West Asian countries.
To counter these losses, Qatar Airways purchased a 10% stake in Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Limited in 2017 and 5% in China Southern Airlines Company Limited earlier this month. Al-Baker also said Qatar Airways is interested in starting an airline in India, but full foreign ownership is not allowed under India’s current foreign investment rules.