Qatar Airways would be willing to buy a 15-25% stake in IndiGo as an alternative to setting up an Indian airline, due to “confusing” foreign ownership rules, CEO Akbar Al Baker told reporters on Tuesday in New Delhi.
“We are really very interested to launch an airline in India, but the regulation is a little bit confusing to us,” he said.
“Because what we gathered in the beginning is that foreigners could own 100% of a domestic Indian carrier. Our lawyers have gone and asked for the process of doing the application. And then we are told ‘no, as an airline you can only own 49%’.”
Al Baker said Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) can own 100%, but QIA is the owner of Qatar Airways. “So, then again it becomes a chicken and an egg story. We really don’t know what is allowed — but we are very interested to launch an airline and operate an airline.”
He said the airline would wait for 12 more months for the policy to become favourable for them.
Al Baker also said they have no issue with 100% Indian control on the airline because “at the end of the day, we will not come, sit and run the airline in India. We will of course have an Indian management, an Indian board, an Indian chairman. So, the effective control will be with Indian nationals but the owner will be the state of Qatar – Qatar Airways”.
A bid for Air India would be dependent on working with a strong Indian partner as the airline’s debt was not an issue.
Qatar Airways expects to release its annual results in two weeks time, Baker said.