The Doha-based airline officially announced a codeshare agreement with IndiGo, the biggest airline in India. Following the agreement, Qatar Airways will place its flight codes on the low-cost carrier’s flights between Doha International Airport (DOH) and Delhi International Airport (DEL), Mumbai International Airport (BOM) and Hyderabad International Airport (HYD), allowing Qatar Airways to increase capacity between its base hub and key Indian cities.
Qatar Airways has had its sights on a partnership or a potential stake in IndiGo since 2015 when it denied rumors of investing in another Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet and the Qatari flag carrier reinstated that they are only interested in IndiGo.
This is the first time that the two airlines shook their hands on a deal.
“We believe this agreement will be just the first step in strengthening our relationship and we very much look forward to working together to harness our complementary strengths and resources to enhance the travel experience for our passengers around the world,” said the Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker.
IndiGo’s own CEO, Ronojoy Dutta, said that “this strategic alliance will not only strengthen our international operations but also boost economic growth in India,” as it will “bring in more traffic” and provide trade opportunities due to the increased connectivity between the two countries.
The Indian market is crucial for the airline, as a lot of Indian expatriates are residing in Qatar. However, Qatar Airways was unable to increase frequencies to the South Asian country, something that was hinted in Al Baker’s speech:
“Our goal is to work in partnership with the Indian authorities to offer more flights, more frequencies and more routes”.
Bureaucratic processes are not the only thing stopping the carrier from investing further into the market. A Saudi imposed blockade has hit the Qatari carrier’s finances hard – Al Baker has stated that the airline aims to reach a break-even point in two years’ time.
Nevertheless, the move will help Qatar Airways increase its capacity to India without investing too much financially. In addition, the carrier is making its first moves to potentially acquire a stake in IndiGo, when the financial situation allows it to do so – the Qatari airline has attempted several times to purchase a stake in the “Best Low-Cost Airline in India”.