Turkish Airlines is interested in HNA Group’s minority stake in carrier Virgin Australia, as it seeks growth in the Asia-Pacific region, according to people familiar with the matter.
Turkey’s national flag-carrier, or Turk Hava Yollari AO as it’s formally known, is among companies looking at HNA’s 20% stake in the Australian airline, said the people, asking not to be named because the discussions are private. Deliberations are preliminary and may not result in a deal, the people said.
A Turkish Airlines spokesman didn’t return calls or mailed questions seeking comment, while a representative for HNA Group declined to comment.
Turkish Airlines has been evaluating potential investments in other airlines to help safeguard expansion if the rise in protectionism presents hurdles to growth.
The airline plans to boost its fleet size to almost 500 aircraft by 2023 including 25 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. It took delivery of the first Dreamliner in June as part of a deal for 40 of the advanced long-range jets, with the Airbus A350 to follow in 2020.
The troubled Chinese conglomerate HNA was open to offers for its stake in Virgin Australia as part of its efforts to cut debt, Bloomberg News reported in August last year. The Chinese firm is selling assets after racking up one of the nation’s biggest corporate debt loads in a global acquisition spree.
Singapore Airlines and Nanshan Capital, which each control about a fifth of Virgin Australia’s shares, were among the companies weighing a bid, people familiar with the matter said at that time.