Dubai: UAE-based Emirates airlines has denied that it is planning to buy a stake or invest in South African Airways.

According to reports, the Gulf airline has been in talks with SAA, South Africa's flagship carrier, about a partnership.The discussions are being facilitated by the UAE’s embassy in Pretoria, Bloomberg reported, quoting City Press, a newspaper based in Johannesburg.

“We are committed to the South African market and have enjoyed close cooperation with South African Airways since 1997, and we are working closely to further enhance our code-share,” an Emirates spokesperson told Gulf News via email. “However, we have no plans to invest to take any equity share in South African Airways or any other airline.”

SAA is one of the UAE carrier’s more than 20 codeshare partners. The tie-up allows flyers to earn and redeem Emirates miles on flights with SAA, which operates the largest route network in Africa and serves over 1,200 destinations and 180 countries worldwide.

Emirates' comments came after South African media reported that the carrier and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways have both held talks with the country’s airline about a partnership.

The discussions have reportedly been going on for some time, but a source at Emirates told Gulf News that no such talks had taken place.

When contacted, Etihad Airways refused to comment, with a spokesperson saying the airline “does not comment on rumours or speculations.”

South African Airways has reportedly been grappling with financial issues, with its chief executive officer saying that an investor could be the answer to the challenges, Bloomberg reported on Sunday.

The airline has not made any profits since 2011, and was bailed out by the government last year to avoid defaulting on its debt, according to Bloomberg.