Akbar Al Baker, the Chief Executive Officer of the Doha-based airline Qatar Airways Group hinted that the company is interested in acquiring a stake in the Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo.

Since India remains a strategically attractive market for Qatar Airways to expand its influence on the region, the airline is interested in picking up stakes in the country’s largest domestic carrier IndiGo, disclosed the CEO of Qatar Airways Group on May 4, 2021. However, the CEO doubted whether it would be right to take such a step while taking into consideration the global uncertainty in the market caused by the ongoing pandemic.

“We are keen to take a stake in IndiGo but I don’t think this is the right time," Akbar Al Baker said.

Currently, Qatar Airways has an active codeshare agreement with IndiGo, which was signed in November 2019. Following terms of the deal, Qatar was enabled to place its code on IndiGo flights between Doha and Delhi as well as Mumbai and Hyderabad. Having been noticing IndiGo as a great opportunity for expansion in the Indian market ever since the agreement was signed, Qatar Airways expressed its interest to purchase a stake in the Indian airline once in 2019. Although at the time Qatar Airways did not take any action, the codeshare agreement, which covers three destinations only, left some space for further cooperation among both carriers in the future.

“Profitability and efficiency are the main criteria of our investment. IndiGo is the largest and most efficient Indian airline, which is why we are interested in them. And India remains strategically an important market for Qatar Airways,” the CEO hinted outlining the company’s willingness to expand its services in India and serve more destinations in the future.

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Although the Executive did not disclose whether the airline has already stepped in talks with IndiGo over the possible stake acquisition, he said that Qatar expected to see a promising demand for air travel in post-pandemic India.

If Qatar Airways purchased a stake in IndiGo, it could gain beneficial access to the low-cost carrier’s network and expand its services with an additional 67 domestic IndiGo routes.