Qatar Airways and IndiGo will establish a 'strategic business' partnership

NEW DELHI: Qatar Airways for years has repeatedly expressed its desire to acquire a stake in the largest airline in India, IndiGo. Now, the two aviation giants will finally make a strategic business announcement on Thursday that could be a shared code for now. The executive director of the Qatar Airways group, Akbar Al Baker, comes to Delhi, where he and the CEO of IndiGo, Ronojoy Dutta, talk about the vision and future of both airlines, said a joint invitation from the airline for this event.

The timing is crucial since Qatar-IndiGo has always been seen as a possible competitor to bid for Air India if the government meets the divestment conditions this time. In addition, IndiGo's half-way experience in its single-aisle Airbus A320 Neo family, on the Delhi-Istanbul route, has not left travelers happy. Therefore, a type of Jet-Etihad structure where IndiGo flies its individual halls to Doha from numerous Indian cities and provides food for the wide bodies of Qatar to the rest of the world (scissor operations) will be a perfect matter with an agreement of shared code IndiGo has almost half of India's domestic market share.

Al Baker of Qatar Airways has been planning to start an airline in India. However, the rules that require such an airline to be owned and controlled substantially (SOEC) by the Indians and an Indian entity have prevented that from happening. Such an airline, even if it is formed, may face difficulties to fly abroad from India, since other countries will see if it meets SOEC standards and, therefore, is a truly Indian airline or not. Qatar has also not been granted additional flight rights to India because it cannot add capacity to the country.

In recent months, IndiGo promoters and founders, Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal, have disagreed over issues related to IndiGo control and now their battle has reached the courts in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

In this context, when IndiGo has faced its own problems and Qatar Airways has not been able to grow organically or inorganically in India, the two airlines are joining. While sources say it is likely to be a code-share agreement that allows you to put the same airline flight numbers, say IndiGo in a person who book a Nagpur-New York-Nagpur ticket (through Doha) or Qatar Airways flight numbers on someone booking a Paris-Patna-Paris (via Doha) for a trip without interruptions, the exact nature of the cooperation will be known on Thursday.