Qatar Airways Wants to Launch an Airline in India
After announcing an amazing new business-class product at ITB Berlin this week, Qatar Airways has more big plans up its sleeve. The Doha-based carrier plans on launching a short-haul airline in India. Qatar Airways Group CEO His Excellency Akbar Al Baker said that the new airline would be 100% Qatari owned and funded by the the Qatar Investment Authority.
India recently opened up the country to direct foreign investment so it's now possible for foreign entities to own domestic Indian airlines. Al Baker said that the carrier will "soon" be submitting an application to Indian authorities to operate an airline with a fleet of about 100 narrow-body jets within the country.
Other foreign carriers have recently started investing in India through joint ventures — AirAsia set up AirAsia India and Singapore Airlines started Vistara with Indian conglomerate Tata Group. And Etihad owns about a quarter of Jet Airways, India's second largest airline. Despite its woes in recent years, the Indian aviation market still shows tons of potential for airlines as its currently valued at about $16 billion and is reportedly set to become the third-largest aviation market in the world by 2020.
Qatar Airways has tried to set up an airline in Saudi Arabia over the past few years, but hasn't made much progress because of the difficulty it's had in obtaining an operating license in the Kingdom. Al Baker also added that because of problems with the delivery of an earlier order of 50 narrow-body aircraft from Airbus, they have requested to convert that into one comprised solely of A321neos.