Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al BakerReuters

Ongoing discussions between SpiceJet and Qatar Airways over finalising a commercial agreement may end up in Qatar Airways buying a stake in the domestic budget airline, according to a media report.

If a deal happens, the transaction will become the second such development in Indian aviation industry in two years.

In 2013, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways had bought 24% stake in Jet Airways by investing Rs 20.6 billion ($332 million).

As part of the initial discussions, SpiceJet is expected to reach an agreement with Qatar Airways to make Doha its global hub. Qatar Airways is also looking to strengthen its operations in India.

"Talks were held recently and consensus was achieved on an interline arrangement," The Economic Times reported a SpiceJet executive, who requested anonymity, as saying.

"It was decided to resume discussions after the Eid holidays and talks will resume again in a week's time," the executive added.

Budget airline SpiceJet is interested in making Doha its intermediate point in order to scale up operations to other regions "where it cannot fly nonstop with its Boeing 737s,"  said a source close to the development.

"Places such as Istanbul, Cairo, Amman, Najaf, Erbil and others are of key interest to the airline where a stop in Doha would ensure seamless transfer of passengers from various points in India to the aforementioned destinations via Doha," the source said, reports ET. 

A stake sale could help cash-strapped SpiceJet to come out of crisis and gain access to slots at Doha's Hamad International Airport easily, the source added.

Debt-ridden SpiceJet had turned profitable for the first time in seven quarters posting a profit of ₹22.5 crore in the March 2015 quarter.

The struggling carrier was on the verge of collapse before an ownership change in January this year. The company's board decided to transfer control of SpiceJet from the Marans to founder-promoter Ajay Singh, after which Singh acquired the entire 58.4% stake held by the Maran family.

The share price of SpiceJet rose over 1% on Friday and was trading at Rs 24.25 on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

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