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Qatar Airways to apply soon to start airline in India

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Cardiff: Qatar Airways (QA) will soon apply for starting an airline in India, which will be a full service carrier operating within the country. While the proposed airline will be fully-owned by Qatar entities, it will have an Indian chairman and majority of board members will also be from India. QA has also stated it is not bidding for Air India.

In his first interaction with the Indian media since last March when he announced the plan to set up an airline in India, QA Group chief executive Akbar Al Baker told  “Our lawyers have started working on our application. We will soon get some clarification from government authorities in India to give us the exact direction on how we can start the process (and) formally apply for the (licence) sometime soon.”

Qatar will not have an Indian partner in this proposed airline. “Indian foreign direct investment rules clearly state that a foreign entity can own 100% of a domestic carrier and we are going by that rule. However, it will be a carrier in India that will be managed by Indians. The entire board, minus one or two people, will be all Indians including the chairman,” Al Baker said.

The government had in June 2016 allowed 100% foreign-owned carrier in India. While the foreign airline can have up to 49% stake, foreign investment arm/s can own the remaining 51%.

“If an (Indian) airline has more than 20 aircraft, it can operate outside India (as per Indian rules). However the airline that we are launching will operate within India even beyond 20 aircraft,” Akbar Al Baker said.

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