Civil aviation secretary RN Choubey said that Qatar Airways would be able to launch its airline only if it gets an Indian partner.
Qatar Airways will wait for another 12 months to see if the rules relating to foreign direct investment (FDI) in airlines become more favourable, only then will the airline launch a subsidiary in the country, group CEO Al Baker said on Tuesday. He termed the current FDI rules in the aviation sector as “ambiguous”.
“What we are given to understand is that a foreign airline cannot own 100% but a foreigner can. I don’t know what is the difference between a foreigner and an airline,” he said.
Al Baker’s comment comes three months after he had first said that the Gulf carrier would soon be moving an application to launch a full-service airline in India for domestic operations. He said if Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) owns 51% and Qatar Airways has 49% in an airline that is not allowed.
“It is very ambiguous. Really the rule is not clear,” he noted. The QIA owns Qatar Airways.
Baker said the airline would wait for 12 more months for the policy to become more favourable for them.
On his part, civil aviation secretary RN Choubey said that Qatar Airways would be able to launch its airline only if it gets an Indian partner. “Existing policy of the government is that the substantial ownership and effective control should remain with Indian nationals and they will have to comply,” Choubey said. To this Al Baker said they have no issue with 100% Indian control because at the end of the day there will be an Indian management, Indian board and an Indian chairman…. “but the owner will be the state of Qatar — Qatar Airways”.
Al Baker said the airline would be interested in Air India but only with a reliable Indian partner. “We would be interested in Air India if we had a strong partner. We need to have a very strong partner and take the airline without the baggage. Debt is not a big problem because it can be restructured. The baggage is the other stuff like ground handling and catering that Air India has. We don’t want to get involved in things that are not our core business,” he said.