Spokesperson: Emirates not planning on acquiring stake in SpiceJet

Emirates put to rest speculation that it is in talks with Indian carrier SpiceJet for a stake in the airline.

Spokesperson: Emirates not planning on acquiring stake in SpiceJet

Emirates put to rest speculation that it is in talks with Indian carrier SpiceJet for a stake in the airline. The Middle East’s largest airline termed the stories ‘inaccurate’ and said it was busy with its own expansion plans.

“In response to recent inaccurate stories in the media, Emirates can confirm it has no plans to acquire a stake in any airline in India or elsewhere,’’ an Emirates spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that the carrier was ‘‘focused on its own growth’’ and was investing substantially in its own fleet and network expansion plans.

SpiceJet declined comment on the report as it was premature at this stage. Stocks of the low-cost airline have suffered a steep fall of 42% over six months and its promoters are also reported to be in talks with Qatar Airways and Kuwait Airways. The Hindu Businessline, quoting unnamed sources on Thursday, had reported that Emirates was in advanced stages of talks to pick up a stake in the Kalanidhi Maran-backed SpiceJet. Maran, from the southern state of Tamil Nadu, also runs the Sun Network, a media conglomerate. Last week, SpiceJet CEO Neil Mills put in his papers and rumours were fanned of a possible stake sale to a Middle East carrier.

This followed the clearance of a modified Etihad-Jet Airways deal by the Indian Foreign Investment Promotion Board by which the Abu Dhabi-based airline would get 24 per cent of Jet shares.

Emirates is the largest foreign airline operating in the lucrative Indian market and flies 185 weekly flights to 10 cities in the country. The airline has a weekly seat capacity of 54,200 from Indian cities to Dubai.

Indian airlines, including government-run carrrier Air India, have been saddled with bad debts which are estimated to be in the region of $1.65bn, according to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation. Airlines like Paramount have shut down operations, while others like Kingfisher remain grounded. Only Indigo has managed to keep its head above water in a competitive environment.

The opening of the Indian aviation sector to foreign players is expected to revive the fortunes of airlines in the country. The Etihad-Jet alliance and another new airline managed by the Tatas and Malaysia’s AirAsia are expected to pave the way for more foreign investors to enter a largely untapped market.

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