A long time ago, like over a year ago, Qatar Airways India airline plan was first spoken about. Their intention was to establish an airline with at least 100 narrowbody aircraft in India. Eventually, after the last we heard of it, there was the more pressing issue of dealing with a ban on using most of the Middle-Eastern airspace for them.
However, once they sort of coped with the situation and decided to move forward with life, the discussion came back on the table. In February, at the delivery of the first A350-1000 event in Toulouse, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al-Baker commented in the affirmative about the plan to establish an Indian airline was still on the charts. Qatar Airways was long rumoured to have been interested in IndiGo, but the airline never returned the interest.
Now, we’ve heard of this for the first time in great detail again, with an Indian journalist making it to the Cardiff services launch of the airline. India has relaxed investment guidelines for foreign investors, where they can own 100% stakes in local carriers. In 2016, the Indian Government allowed foreign airlines to own up to 49%, so Qatar Airways can easily tie up with the other arms of Qatar government to own the rest 51%.
Qatar Airways‘ new Indian carrier will have an Indian chairman and a majority Indian board. Qatar Airways does not have any intentions of bidding for Air India which is up for sale.
Now, this is not the first time Qatar Airways has gone out of their home market. They have been accumulating traction across the globe for a while. They own a part of IAG (owners of British Airways, Iberia and Vueling), a slice of Cathay Pacific, and others. The only time they had to back off was when American Airlines did not allow them to pursue a stake in their airline. Qatar Airways had also set up another subsidiary in Saudi Arabia, known as Al-Maha Airlines, which never took off due to difficulty gaining an operating permit, which also took delivery of four A320 aircraft.
We may sooner than later see Qatar Airways enter India with a full-service airline. But what is interesting is the scale of the proposed carrier, which mirrors the size of current day Jet Airways or IndiGo operations to an extent.
What do you think about the new Qatar Airways India based airline?