Qatar Airways is planning to soon file an application for launching its airline in India, chief executive Akbar Al Baker said. The carrier will launch a full-service airline that will be funded by Qatar’s sovereign fund, Al Baker added, according to PTI.
“It would have Indians heading the board and as most of its members,” he told the news agency on the sidelines of the IATA Annual General Meeting in Sydney on June 6.
“We will move the application soon. I don’t know really by when because it (the process) takes time,” Al Baker said, a day after he was named the chairman of IATA’s board of governors, Livemint reported.
Baker, who had first talked about the airline’s plans for domestic operations India in March 2017, had said earlier this year that the company will start its operations in the country with at least 100 aircraft.
“I will not tell you what types of aeroplanes we will deploy in India but as you may remember we said that we will launch an airline in India which will have a fleet of at least 100 aircraft,” he had said at the time, according to PTI.
Three full-service carriers — Air India, Jet Airways and Vistara Airlines — currently operate in India.
Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is managed by the Qatar Investment Authority. Set up in 2005 to manage the oil and natural gas surpluses, it currently has under management assets worth about $335 billion, the news agency added.
India permits 100 percent foreign direct investment in domestic airlines. Foreign airlines can, however, invest only up to 49 percent.
Qatar Airways’ plans to enter India make “strategic sense,” Livemint quoted Mark Martin, founder and chief executive officer of aviation consultancy Martin Consulting LLC, as saying. Martin added that even if the firm begins the process immediately, it will be able to start functioning in India only by 2020, according to the report.
India is the world’s third largest market in domestic aviation when it comes to the number of tickets sold, the economic survey report showed earlier this year. In 2017 from April-September, domestic airlines carried 57.50 million passengers, showing a growth rate of 16 per cent over the corresponding previous year period, with 10.30 percent domestic cargo handled, the report said.
In 2016-17, the annual growth in domestic passenger departures was 23.5 percent as compared to 3.3 percent in the United States and 10.7 percent in China, it added.