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Published on Monday, November 26, 2012

Etihad eyes Jet Airways stake

Reports from India indicate loss-making Jet Airways is in talks with Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways to sell minority stakes.

Any deal, the Business Standard reports, would be the first since India changed its rules in September to allow foreign carriers to buy stakes of up to 49% in local airlines.

The Indian aviation industry lost a combined USD2 billion in the last fiscal year.

"The talks are on. This is more or less final. It may take around a month and half," said a government source, referring to the Jet-Etihad negotiations.

Etihad has bought stakes in Virgin Australia, Air Berlin, Aer Lingus Group and Air Seychelles to help build Abu Dhabi into a global aviation hub.

However, AirAsia has emphatically denied reports that it is set to buy a stake in India's SpiceJet.

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said, "AirAsia rejects the speculation surrounding our possible expansion in India. These reports are completely incorrect.

"AirAsia has not submitted a bid for the Indian budget carrier, and has no intention of doing so."

In separate news, India's Civil Aviation Ministry may give Jet Airways permission to join Star Alliance simultaneously with state-owned Air India.

Earlier, the government wanted the Star Alliance to decide positively on Air India's membership before considering Jet Airways.

Last year, Star Alliance snubbed Air India, despite the process of admission by AI being in the final stages.

Alliance members failed to agree that Air India had met all conditions of membership.

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