A meeting between Qatar Airways's Group Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al-Baker and IndiGo Airlines promoter Rahul Bhatia in New Delhi on Thursday has triggered speculation that a stake sale by IndiGo to Qatar Airways could be in the offing.

The speculation gains credibility in the wake of a statement made by Al-Baker in January this year. "If IndiGo offers us 49 per cent, Qatar Airways will be extremely interested," he had said.

Al-Baker is one of the world's most powerful airline chiefs, with a reputation for strategic insight and execution.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker

While confirming the meeting, both of them quickly denied they discussed the possibility of a stake sale, saying it was a "social" meeting and not much should be read into it.

The meeting needs to be seen in the context of West Asian carriers placing huge orders to buy aircraft mainly to gain greater access to Indian flyers who travel to the US and Europe. 

Competitors of IndiGo say that the meeting was a prelude to a possible deal to be hashed out in the near future, read BusinessLine.

IndiGo has become India's biggest domestic airline, enjoying almost a 33 percent share in India's aviation market; it has a fleet of 66 Airbus A320-200 aircraft.

Al_Baker had ruled out investing in other airlines operating in India, while speaking to the Indian media on the sidelines of launch of Airbus A350 XWB in Doha, for which Qatar Airways was the launch customer.