Akbar Al Baker has for years been trying to buy a considerable stake in IndiGo. But IndiGo has politely refused every time. Al Baker also
has had intentions to start an airline in India if the Indian government agrees. Funnily, Qatar Airways hasn’t even applied yet for the same. I love the fact that he is the most outspoken CEO that I have seen.
In a recent interview in Flight Global, Al Baker mentioned that We are making partnerships with Indian domestic partners. We are very close to agreeing on codeshares with Indigo and GoAir. Here is the extract of what he said with respect to the Indian market:
The blockade has influenced the geographical focus of the airline’s passenger operations, which now centres upon Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Indian subcontinent, says Al Baker. “We are making partnerships with Indian domestic partners. We are very close to agreeing codeshares with Indigo and GoAir.”
Al Baker retains a desire for direct participation in the Indian market “if the Indian authorities allow us. I will always be very keen because India is a very important market for us and it will have a shortage in domestic and we want to fill that in”.
I had a thought a few days back to write on the lines of Will an IndiGo-Qatar Airways codeshare happen in the near future? The reason was pretty straightforward. As you know, we have been tracking IndiGo’s massive Middle-East expansion for some months now.
IndiGo now connects Doha to 8 Indian cities. They are second to Qatar Airways (11 destinations) in terms of connectivity between India and Qatar. Doha is also IndiGo’s second largest International station after Dubai (11 destinations). I get it Doha may have a lot of point-to-point connectivity but it is a major transit hub also.
It makes sense for IndiGo to enter into a codeshare agreement or some sort of a partnership to shore up RASK (revenues+PLF) on flights to Doha. Passengers would also benefit a lot from this due to increase connectivity and more options. Qatar Airways seems to have almost utilised its share of bilateral rights. Without an increase in the rights in the near future, this seems to be a good fix to a problem.
For example, If passengers connect to Doha on IndiGo, then they would also have the option of connecting to Qatar Airways afternoon/midnight bank of Europe departures.
These are just a few options of the top of my head.
For me, Qatar Airways would benefit the most from Mumbai origination, where it currently only has a single daily flight as opposed to numerous flights on other carriers targetting connecting passengers as well.
This will be the first time IndiGo and GoAir would enter into a codeshare agreement in their years of operation. For now, we don’t the specifics though. GoAir doesn’t fly to any Middle-East destination as of now. But they do have plans to operate out of the soon to open Kannur airport. We don’t yet know if the agreement will cover domestic destinations in India where Qatar Airways doesn’t serve.
The idea of a full-service carrier on a no-frills carrier codeshare isn’t new. Emirates and JetBlue have a codeshare agreement. This is a first for the Indian aviation sector though. This will benefit both the airlines equally and also GoAir to some extent. IndiGo seems to be warming up to the idea of codeshares which help to increase revenue and connectivity. This comes at a time when they are focussing on a large international expansion, especially in the short-haul sectors.
What do you infer from this new codeshare agreement that is in the making?