Qatar Airways' flashy CEO said on Tuesday he won't invest in Jet Airways as the Indian carrier is backed by an 'enemy' state.
"We would definitely look at it (Jet Airways) if a 24 percent stake was not held by Etihad ... How can I take a stake in an airline which is owned by our adversary," he asked, according to Reuters.
Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi's flagship carrier, has a 24 percent stake in Naresh Goyal-controlled Jet Airways. The debt laden Indian carrier has long been scouting for suitors and investors.
Etihad itself had shown interest in raising stake in the Indian full service carrier, but had reportedly sought a controlling stake. Goyal, who started the airline in 1993, and holds half the equity stake in the company, had buffeted the idea initially.
Both Etihad and Qatar Airways are promoted by cash rich Gulf Arab emirates, though Qatar Airways swung to losses last year after Qatar was placed under a blockade by neighbouring countries including the United Arab Emirates.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain alleged that Qatar was financing terrorism and siding with the Gulf Arabs' arch foe, Iran.
Qatar denied all charges but the financial embargo left biting impact on the tiny peninsular nation rich with natural gas reserves.
Al-Baker, who presided over the growth of Qatar Airways as one of the best-rated airlines in the world, said his company was still interested in Indian carriers.
There have been reports that Qatar Airways was looking at a stake in India's leading domestic carrier IndiGo. It has also been reported that Qatar Airways was looking at launching a fully owned airline in India.
However, Al-Baker has categorically dismissed the possibility of the Doha-based carrier investing in Jet. "But not in an airline where substantial ownership is by the enemy of the country," he said.
Jet Airways is reeling under a debt pile of 81.5 billion rupees ($1.2 billion). Bloated costs, surging fuel prices and a weaker rupee are hurting Jet Airways. Peers such as SpiceJet and Indigo had reported impressive profits during the same period.
According to recent reports, the rescue of Jet Airways now hinged on the exit of promoter Naresh Goyal, which would facilitate infusion of capital by potential suitors like Etihad or the Tata Group.