Qatar Airways plans to launch a domestic airline in India, media reports said, quoting its chief executive officer Akbar Al Baker.
“We will move the application soon. I don’t know really by when because it (the process) takes time,” he was quoted as saying. He elaborated that the airline will “soon” move an application to launch a full-service airline in India for domestic operations.
Baker, who has been at the helm of the airlines affairs for two decades, said the proposed airline would be fully financed by Qatar’s sovereign fund, Qatar Investment Authority. Indians would head the board of the proposed airline according to the report.
This is not the first time the Qatar has expressed interest in the fast growing Indian aviation market. The first public announcement was made in March 2017, when Qatar said it wants to operate an airline in India.
Then in December, the airline said it would like to add more flights to India. Most recently, in February, 2018, Al Baker said that the airline plans to launch an airline in India with a fleet of at least 100 planes.
“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 said in February.
Earlier this year, the Qatar Airways chief said he planned to start a full-service Indian airline with a fleet of 100 planes.
Though aviation sector has seen a robust traffic growth in India, the sector remains stringently regulated for foreign investors.
Indian airlines carried 120 million domestic passengers during the 2017-18 financial year compared with 61 million in the financial year 2013-14, recording a 19 per cent compound annual growth rate, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu has said recently.