Qatar Airways again pitches for more seats from India

Shishir Sinha Doha | Updated on January 24, 2018

Urges Indian Govt to open the aviation sector further

Gulf-based carrier Qatar Airways has asked the Indian Government to let it bridge the aviation gap in the country instead of allowing new companies to set up shop.

The airline also made it clear that it is not interested in buying equity in any Indian carrier except Indigo.

“You have lost Kingfisher. You have nearly lost SpiceJet. You have GoAir and Air India, which are struggling. So, you have only one efficient carrier, that is Indigo,” Akbar Al Baker, Group CEO of Qatar Airways told global media on the occasion of unveiling the airline’s new Airbus A350 aircraft.

“But, India cannot depend upon one carrier. I know there are Vistara and Air Asia, but an airline does not grow overnight. They need at least 5-10 years to reach their potential. So, the Indian Government should open up the market for established carriers like Qatar Airways,” he said.

Hopeful of policy change

Criticising politicians for hampering the growth of civil aviation in India, Al Baker said he had high hopes on the new Modi Government. He said that the growth of the aviation sector does not depend upon on any one person but on the policy of the Government.

“The aviation industry brings jobs, tourists, prosperity and also brings more business. It is extremely important for the Prime Minister to put aviation growth in India on priority,” he said. This appeal comes at a time, when Qatar is pitching for more bilateral rights in India. At present, airlines from Qatar and India can provide over 24,000 weekly seats on each side, which the Gulf nation wants raised to at least 50,000.

Baker said Qatar had close economic ties with India, meeting a large chunk of India’s natural gas requirements. But the traffic rights awarded to it were not commensurate with the close economic relationship, he said.

Indigo on radar

The airline chief also said that no other airline except Indigo suits him for investment. “If Indigo offers us 49 per cent, Qatar Airways will be extremely interested,” he said.

In fact, the Gulf carrier had expressed its interest last year too, but there was no response from Indigo. Baker said that his company would be interested in deploying the newly inducted Airbus A350 aircraft on Indian routes, but not immediately.

“I am going to receive eight aeroplanes this year. It is not enough; we need more, but we have already deployed the Boeing Dreamliner to India and till the A350 came, this was the most advanced plane,” he said. Qatar Airways is the first airline to have A350 aircraft and will start commercial operations on January 15 with a flight from Frankfurt to Doha.

Published on January 07, 2015

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