Qatar Airways has been unable to launch its own Indian arm so it's expected to announce this week a strategic cooperation agreement with IndiGo to drive more traffic to and from India. IndiGo keeps growing by leaps and bounds.
“It is not something about buying a stake, it’s commercial,” Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said in an interview in Kuwait on Tuesday, referring to an announcement planned for Nov. 7.
Qatar Airways has been looking to expand in the fast-growing Indian market, yet plans to start a new carrier there have been frustrated over rules surrounding foreign ownership.
Instead, the airline has asked local authorities to temporarily allow it to add more seats on high-volume routes to fill the gap left by Jet Airways, a partner of rival Etihad Airways, which went bust in April.
IndiGo has emerged as the biggest Indian airline following the collapse of Jet Airways.
Last week, the carrier ordered 300 narrow-body jets from Airbus SE — one of the European plane maker’s biggest-ever deals.
Qatar Airways could break even within the next two years, the CEO said, even after full-year losses increased by near tenfold on higher fuel costs and a weaker regional economy.
The carrier as also been affected by a tough operating environment caused by Saudi-led airspace closures.
“We are now back to our pre-blockade growth, and we hope that we will come to profitability soon,” Al Baker said.
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Photo credit: An IndiGo, a unit of InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., aircraft takeoff at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India, on Monday, Jul. 10, 2017. Dhiraj Singh / Bloomberg