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Thursday, 09 March, 2017, 10 : 00 AM [IST]

Qatar Airways, state investment arm to start domestic airline in India

As per a Mint report by Tarun Shukla, Doha-based Qatar Airways said on Wednesday that it will start a fully owned airline in India. India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) had asked the Qatar government and state-owned Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker to start an airline in India and participate in the country’s growth story. “Yes we will have a 100% owned domestic carrier in India that will belong to both QR (Qatar Airways) and our state investment arm as India has now allowed foreign investment in domestic carriers within India,” Akbar Al Baker, Group CEO, Qatar Airways announced at the ITB Berlin in Germany. “We will soon be making an application to that effect.”

Al Baker was responding to a question whether he will increase stake in IAG further. He said he had no intention to do so “at the moment” but will file an application for an airline in India soon.

Qatar Airways is British Airways-owner IAG’s (International Airlines Group) biggest shareholder. Qatar Airways also owns stakes in Latam Airlines Group SA, South America’s biggest carrier, and Italy’s second-largest airline, Meridiana Fly SpA.
MoCA welcomed the move by Qatar. “I did not expect this (so soon),” Rajiv Nayan Choubey, Secretary Civil Aviation, Government of India said on Wednesday. “We will await for the application and will process it as per government policy.” Choubey said as far as the question of Qatar investing with its sovereign fund was concerned it will be examined as per norms.

“We will examine that when we receive that application. Yes up to 49% it is allowed. That (fund investment) is something that we will have to take a look as to what is the interplay between the two and that is the subject matter of approval,” he said.

Foreign airlines are allowed to own as much as 49% in Indian carriers, although overall foreign investment can go up to 100%.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad has bought a 24% stake in Naresh Goyal’s Jet Airways. Singapore Airlines has started Vistara in partnership with Tata Group. AirAsia has started a subsidiary again in partnership with Tata Group. Sovereign wealth fund-backed Istithmar PJSC has held a stake in SpiceJet in the past. (Source: Mint)
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