A day after market speculations started that Doha-based Qatar Airways might pick up stake in India’s largest carrier by marketshare, IndiGo, the domestic carrier said in a statement that no such deal was happening, and dismissed news reports as “baseless”. “We confirm there is no discussion, leave alone negotiation, about any potential equity or other financial investment by Qatar Airways in IndiGo,” it said. The company said it is instead in “preliminary” stages of discussions to explore “marketing arrangements based on mutual interests”.
According to experts, Qatar Airways, which has 23,500 seats available from India in bilaterals to fly passengers to Gulf countries and further connect with the rest of the world, is looking for a partner in India.
IndiGo, which is mostly a domestic carrier and flies single aisle Airbus, has close to 100 planes and over 630 flights every day, has the ability to provide Qatar with regional connectivity — a hub and spoke model.
India is a growing attraction for Gulf carriers like Qatar, Emirates and Etihad Airways. The IndiGo partnership will help Qatar to counter rivals Emirates and Etihad, which have stake in Jet Airways.
Qatar flies from city airports in India, however, there are travellers to the Gulf countries from smaller the towns of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Though IndiGo, which filed its red herring prospectus last month, may have dismissed any stake sale, Akbar Al Baker, chief executive of Qatar Airways, had in May said in Dubai that Qatar Airways would be keen to pick up 49% stake in the Indian carrier, as it is the country’s best-run and most successful airlines.
The tie-up might allow IndiGo to share marketing cost and also enter into a revenue share model if any IndiGo passenger takes a connecting flight to Doha. There are various parameters being worked out, but the discussions are in early stages and both companies preferred to remain tight-lipped about the partnership.