by AFP/ pic by BLOOMBERG
NEW DELHI – India’s IndiGo announced a codeshare agreement with Qatar Airways Thursday, just days after ordering 300 Airbus planes, as the low-cost airline boosts its foreign ambitions and the Gulf carrier taps into the booming domestic market.
The agreement will allow Qatar Airways to put its passengers on the Indian carrier’s flights between Doha and Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad.
India’s aviation industry has seen tremendous growth in recent years, recording an increase of 18 percent in the numbers of flyers in 2018 with nearly 140 million people flying domestically.
IndiGo – which placed orders for 300 A320neo family aircraft worth over $33.2 billion in late October – is the largest low-cost private airline in the South Asian nation with some 47 percent of local market share.
But the airline has been dogged by a corporate governance dispute between co-founders Rakesh Gangwal and Rahul Bhatia that has stoked investor concerns.
Shares in IndiGo’s parent company InterGlobe Aviation were up by almost two percent in Mumbai after the announcement.
The codeshare agreement could set “the stage for a possible future alliance,” editor of website Bangalore Aviation website, Devesh Agarwal, told AFP.
Qatar Airways has been keen to tap into the fast-growing market, but is not allowed to start a new carrier in India due to local ownership rules.
Chief executive Akbar Al Baker told the Press Trust of India that Qatar Airways was “interested in buying stake in IndiGo, but this is not the right time as issues among promoters are yet to be resolved”.
Despite the growth in passenger numbers, high operating costs, including rising fuel prices and a decline in the Indian rupee’s value against the dollar, have hit the industry hard.
IndiGo registered a loss of 10.7 billion rupees ($150 million) in the last quarter ending September.