NEW DELHI: Qatar Airways, which is interested in partnering with Indian carrier for expanding its air operations to India is looking at potential Indian carriers for collaboration, as it is eyeing to tap India’s civil aviation space.
Sources said the airline is exploring for an opportunity to tie-up with existing Indian carrier, both regional and airlines’ having pan India presence.
A senior official with the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) said that the Indian government had discussed the issue with the Qatar government – Qatar Airways is a state-owned airline – and the latter has evinced interested.
MoCA has reciprocated Qatar government’s plan and has written to the Qatar government to start an airline in India.
Qatar government had evinced interest during bilateral negotiations between the two countries for increased number of flights and expanding its aviation market to India recently.
Government sources said it has also suggested Qatar Airways to explore for partnering with Indian carriers for the regional connectivity scheme (RCS), which is aimed at connecting the remote airports of the country.
However, Qatar Airways is more inclined towards major metro airports, which cater to over 90 per cent of India’s domestic and international traffic.
India’s aviation market reached nearly 100 million passengers in 2016 and is set become the third-largest aviation market by 2026.
India has been a lucrative destination for middle-east carriers. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways in 2013 bought a 24 per cent stake in Naresh Goyal’s Jet Airways.
Qatar Airways has since 2013 been trying hard to partner with Indian carriers but has not succeeded yet.
In the past 12 years the Indian government has allocated thousands of seats to middle east airlines, which gave them an opportunity to establish as dominant international carriers in India.
During UPA government when Praful Patel was the civil aviation minister (in 2005) Dubai which had only 10,400 seats a week to India in 2003-04 to just six cities was allocated of 54,200 seats a week and 14 cities by 2008-09.