Dubai-based Emirates Airline has confirmed that it is in talks with the Sri Lankan government, which wants to increase its share in SriLankan Airlines.

It is not clear whether the Sri Lankan government is planning to buy all of Emirates shares in the airline or just part of it.

“The Sri Lankan government has been investigating the possibility of increasing their share in SriLankan Airlines,” says an Emirates spokesman in a statement.

The Sri Lankan government currently owns 51 per cent of its airline while Emirates owns 43.6 per cent. The remaining percentage is owned by SriLankan Airlines employees.

Emirates first acquired a stake in SriLankan Airlines in 1998 when Emirates and Sri Lanka signed an agreement for a 10-year partnership. Emirates chose not to renew its management contract when it expired in 2008.

The Dubai carrier now has $1.7bn of debt and more than 151 aircraft on order at a cost of more than $50bn (MEED 8:12:09).

The civil war ended in Sri Lanka in 2009 and the government is now seeking to increase the number of tourists.