Qatar, Air Arabia interested in Indian airlines
By: Ruchi Shroff
Qatar Airways and Air Arabia could be next in line to invest in India after Etihad bought a 24% stake in Jet Airways last week, the Economic Times has reported.
According to the report, Qatar is looking at investing in an existing Indian carrier with SpiceJet and GoAir being the frontrunners. Meanwhile grounded Kingfisher Airlines has also vied for Qatar's investment.
Air Arabia is looking at tying up with an Indian partner for investing in a start-up like AirAsia India JV between the Malaysian budget carrier and the Tata Group.
"The fight for carrying the growing traffic between India and the West — including Australia , New Zealand and some other far east destinations — has shifted to the Gulf. Air India is the only desi carrier that is hit by the emergence of Gulf carriers as the de facto national airlines of India. European carriers are also going to be hit. Indian LCCs are not that badly hit as their Gulf flights only will be affected somewhat," said an airline official.
The Jet-Etihad deal has led to India granting massive flying rights between India and Abu Dhabi, giving a push to Etihad, which in 2011-12 did not even figure in the top 10 airlines in terms of transporting people between India and rest of the world. This despite the fact that five of the airlines in the top 10 list were from the Gulf, led by Emirates and then Qatar, Air Arabia, Saudi Arabian and Oman Air. While Emirates holds the top slot when it comes to flying people in and out of India, Qatar and Air Arabia figured in top five airlines in 2010-11 .
"The problem was for Etihad as it could not get more capacity to India and increase its market share. The Jet deal will catapult it to the top and make it compete directly with Emirates . Qatar could also follow the same route," said industry sources. While Emirates has 185 flights a week from 10 cities, Qatar has 95 flights per week from 12 cities and Etihad has 63 flights a week to nine cities.