IndiGo airline and Qatar Airways will make a strategic business announcement on November 7, which media reports said would involve a codeshare agreement. The Gulf carrier wants to tap traffic from the Indian air-travel market.
IndiGo chief executive Ronojoy Dutta and Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker were to make a joint announcement.
Qatar Airways had earlier tried to pick up stake in India’s largest airline, but IndiGo resisted. Al Baker disclosed that for now his company plans to enter codeshare and joint flights with IndiGo.
The fast-growing Indian market has been in the radar of Qatar Airways but its plans to start an airline of it own have been frustrated over Indian rules regarding foreign ownership.
Instead, the airline has asked Indian authorities to temporarily allow it to add more seats on high-volume routes to fill the gap left by Jet Airways, a partner of rival Etihad Airways, which went bust in April.
IndiGo, which enjoys nearly half (48.2%) of the market share of India’s domestic air traffic, also benefitted from the Jet Airways bankruptcy. It is also planning an aggressive push into more international destinations.
Last week, IndiGo placed a historic order for 300 Airbus A320neo family planes, including the newest jet, a long-range version of the single-aisle A320neo family called the A321XLR.
The airline currently flies to 60 international destinations including Turkey, China, Vietnam, Myanmar and Saudi Arabia, which it added this year.
Also read: India’s IndiGo promoters’ row far from over
However this forthcoming joint announcement comes amid the ongoing tussle between Indigo promoters Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal.
Last month the matter reached US courts with Bhatia seeking a legal order from a Maryland court to retrieve correspondence from independent director Anupam Khanna. Bhatia alleged that Khanna was in league with Gangwal.
Bhatia has accused Gangwal of breaching shareholders’ pact and causing losses to him by making public the dispute between them. Gangwal had alleged serious governance lapses at the company and remarked that even a paan ki dukaan (betel shop) would have managed matters with more grace.
Endgame for Jet
Meanwhile, the now-defunct Jet Airways may finally be heading towards liquidation with the Committee of Creditors considering selling off the assets. After months of speculations and hopes of a revival of the beleaguered airline, no active bidder has emerged yet.
The committee will discuss the next steps for the cash-strapped airline in the upcoming meeting next month. The interim resolution professional has also started to collate the assets of Jet Airways.
The slots occupied by Jet Airways at various airports may go to other airlines as the aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, had given the airline time till mid-January to file slot requests for the summer season.
The Naresh Goyal-promoted airline has been grounded for over seven months now after it announced a temporary shutdown in April this year. It had 22,000 employees on its rolls.
Jet Airways was finally admitted for insolvency on June 20. The 180-day deadline for completing the corporate insolvency resolution process ends on December 16.