Doha, 29 Aug 2019: Qatar Airways has denied the rumours of taking over ailing Indian public sector airlines, Air India.
Akbar Al Baker, the CEO, Qatar Airways, has made it clear that his company is not interested in buying Air India, a report by Reuters said. He was speaking at a function to announce the launch of flights from Doha to the Malaysian island of Langkawi from October.
Al Baker’s comments come as the Indian government is making a fresh attempt to sell stake or even completely exit Air India. Government of India may now consider selling up to a 100 percent stake in Air India. Replacing Nitin Gadkari, the Home Minister Amit Shah will now lead a group of ministers on the divestment of Air India. The panel, which is to work out the modalities for sale of Air India, will now have four ministers, Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. The last year, government failed in its attempt to sell a 76 percent stake in Air India due to a lack of interest from bidders.
Al Baker had previously told The Economic Times that his airline would be interested in Air India only if it comes without the ‘baggage’. He was not referring to airline’s debt but functions such as ground handling, engineering etc, he told the newspaper.
Indian Government could not be met with success in its attempt to prop up the debt-laden airline by infusing equity to keep it alive. Government official told Reuters in July, adding that it expects to get 150 billion rupees ($2.1 billion) from selling the airline.