Qatar Airways, which was running for the title of the world’s longest flight operator last year, is soon launching an airline in India — one of the top ten aviation markets in the world.
QA chief Akbar Al Baker announced at the ITB Berlin Travel Show on Wednesday that the carrier would be making an application to the India government soon, Times of India reports.
The Doha-based airline is owned by the state of Qatar and its operations in India would be in partnership with the investment arm of the Qatar government.
Operating an airline in India is not easy given steep fuel taxes, expensive airport fees and stiff competition.
AirAsia, among the latest entrants in the Indian market, went on record to say that it was hard to do business due to the country’s “protectionist policies” and “vested interests.”
First fully foreign-owned airline in India.
If QA launches here, it would become the first fully foreign-owned airline in India. Until last year, foreign carriers were allowed to own as much as 49 percent in an airline. The Indian government lifted FDI caps in June.
At present, only three Indian carriers have investment by foreign airlines. Abu Dhabi’s Etihad has a 24 percent stake in Jet Airways. Tata Group holds a 51 percent stake in Vistara and AirAsia India each, with Singapore Airlines and AirAsia Berhad having the remaining 49 percent in them, respectively.
India’s domestic aviation market reached nearly 100 million passengers in 2016 and is set to displace the U.K. as the third-largest aviation market by 2026, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Welcome to India, Qatar Airways!