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Tuesday, 18 April, 2017, 09 : 30 AM [IST]

Qatar Airways seeks increase in seats & expansion to 7 Indian cities

As per a Business Standard report by Arindam Majumdar, Doha-based Qatar Airways has sought a significant increase in capacity entitlements and access to seven new cities in India. Documents reviewed by Business Standard show that Qatar is planning to start direct flights to several cities where it doesn’t have a presence, while increasing frequency by four times on its current routes.

Recently, Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al-Baker had announced starting a fully-owned airline in India, signaling an ambitious expansion plan in the country.

Qatar has asked for a weekly quota of 66,374 seats, up from 24,292 at present. The company has also sought government permission to land in 7 additional cities, apart from the current 14.  It also wants a nod from the authorities for code-sharing with third-country airlines. The goal is to fulfill this expansion plan within four IATA (International Air Transport Association) schedule seasons, it is learnt.

The new locations that Qatar Airways wants access to are Pune, Mangaluru, Lucknow, Jaipur, Tiruchirapalli, Chandigarh and Madurai, while the frequency of flights could be stepped up from metros such as New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

A liberal code-sharing policy with third-country airlines will allow Qatar Airways to boost traffic from Indian cities it does not have access to, through partner airlines via Doha.
A 10-member Qatari delegation, led by the Chairman of the country’s Civil Aviation Authority, Abdullah bin Nasser Turki Al-Subaey, and Akbar Al-Baker in a meeting with the Indian authorities last November, had made these demands.

During the meeting, Al-Subaey referred to a letter he had written to Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey in August 2016, expressing his disappointment that Qatar Airways had failed to get any enhancement to its share of bilateral rights since 2009.

However, Qatar Airways’ demand could face resistance from domestic airlines as they fear deep-pocket airlines from the Gulf would skew the Indian market. A private airline executive said that granting further access to Qatar Airways was against the policy of developing India as a global hub. (SOurce: Business Standard)

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