Qatar Airways plan: Jet Airways, SpiceJet flag concerns with government

By: | Published: March 10, 2017 9:49 PM

Top officials of SpiceJet and Jet Airways today flagged their "concerns" with the Civil Aviation Ministry over the move to allow foreign players to set up airlines country.

Jet Airways, Qatar Airways, SpiceJet, RN Choubey, Ajay Singh, Amit Agarwal, Civil Aviation MinistryThe meeting, which lasted for more than an hour, comes two days after Gulf carrier Qatar Airways announced its plans to set up an airline in India along with the Gulf nation’s sovereign wealth fund.

Top officials of SpiceJet and Jet Airways today flagged their “concerns” with the Civil Aviation Ministry over the move to allow foreign players to set up airlines country. The meeting, which lasted for more than an hour, comes two days after Gulf carrier Qatar Airways announced its plans to set up an airline in India along with the Gulf nation’s sovereign wealth fund. SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh and Jet Airways acting CEO Amit Agarwal met Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey where discussions mainly revolved around allowing overseas entities into domestic airline business, a source close to the development said.

They “expressed concerns” over the government allowing 100 per cent ownership of local airlines by foreign investors, the source said.

Both, SpiceJet and Jet Airways are part of Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), a grouping of domestic carriers, and other members are IndiGo and GoAir.

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While FIA has not formally made any comment on the announcement made by Qatar Airways, the grouping has been vociferous in their opposition to foreign entities owning majority stake in Indian airlines.

As part of liberalising norms for overseas investments, foreign non-airline players can own up to 100 per cent stake in local carriers.

On Wednesday, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Baker Al-Baker announced in Berlin plans to establish an airline in India.

“We are joining hands with the investment arm of State of Qatar to start a domestic airline in India with a 100 per cent investment,” Al Baker had said.

In a strongly-worded letter to the ministry on January 3, the FIA had raised concerns about foreign players acquiring ownership in Indian airlines.

Once foreign controlled airlines are established as Indian carriers, they would gain automatic access to defence airfields, the grouping had said.

Further, the FIA had also said that since an unfriendly foreign country can easily route its investment through other countries or through shell companies, allowing effective control to lie outside the country has “huge implications”.

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