Qatar Airways on Thursday ruled out participation in the sale of national carrier Air India. However, the airline's chief executive officer (CEO) Akbar Al Baker said it can look to invest in budget carrier IndiGo at an appropriate time. "We have no interest in buying stake in Air India. We are interested in buying stake in IndiGo, but this is not the right time as issues among promoters are yet to be resolved," Baker told reporters.
In the past, Baker has expressed interest in picking up stakes in an Indian carrier and setting up a domestic airline in the country. Meanwhile, IndiGo and Qatar Airways have signed a one-way codeshare agreement giving the middle-eastern carrier further access into the Indian market. The codeshare pact will enable Qatar Airways to place its code on IndiGo flights between Doha and Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad. It means that Qatar Airways can now sell IndiGo tickets for onward journey from these three cities.
IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta said that both carriers were working on a reciprocal agreement which would be announced soon. This is the second codeshare agreement for IndiGo as part of its growth strategy for international markets; it signed a two-way codeshare agreement with Turkish Airlines in December last year. Qatar Airways has been looking to increase its presence in one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world. The full-service carrier has been urging the government to increase the bilateral flying rights between Qatar and India. Under the current bilaterals, both countries have a quota of 24,292 weekly seats each.
According to the ministry of civil aviation, the Qatari side has exhausted its quota utilising 24,655 seats with 102 weekly flights between Doha and 13 destinations in India, including Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Kolkata, Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram. On the other hand, the Indian carriers are using around 12,000 seats per week to Qatar.