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1 May 2013 11:13 am

Qatar Airways, Air Arabia said to eye Indian deals

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Gulf carriers Qatar Airways and Air Arabia are reportedly set to be next in line to invest in Indian airlines. The Times of India on Tuesday said it understood that the two airlines were keen to follow Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways after it picked up a 24 percent stake in Jet Airways last week. It said Qatar Airways was looking to invest in an existing Indian carrier with SpiceJet and GoAir being the frontrunners, citing highly placed sources. It added that grounded Kingfisher Airlines was also trying to woo Qatar Airways while Sharjah-based Air Arabia is reportedly looking at tying up with an Indian partner to invest in a start-up. In January, the CEO of Qatar Airways dismissed reports that the Gulf carrier was interested in investing in an Indian airline. Akbar Al Baker said then in a statement: “Qatar Airways categorically denies it is interested in investing in Spicejet or any other Indian airline. "This is pure speculation by individuals who deliberately want to spread such unfounded rumours to raise the stock value of their entities. “India is a huge market and a potentially lucrative one. While we have expressed interest in expanding our presence in India, we will only be interested in any potential investment once we are sure regulations and laws are properly liberalised.” A report from the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) earlier this week said Gulf carriers are likely to seek permission for more than 150,000 more seats a week in capacity from the Indian government. It said access and flights to tier II Indian cities would see the need for increased capacity for Gulf carriers. The Jet-Etihad deal has led to India granting massive flying rights between India and Abu Dhabi. Source: Arabian Business