The government’s last year decision to allow 100 per cent FDI in aviation sector seems to be working now. The sector is all set to get a major boost with Qatar Airways announcing that it has plans to start a domestic airline in India with the investment arm of gulf nation’s government.
This will be the first of its kind airline venture in India that will be fully-owned by overseas entities.
"We are joining hands with the investment arm of State of Qatar to start a domestic airline in India with a 100 per cent investment," Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said at a press meet in Berlin on Wednesday.
"We are doing this because Indian government has opened up the foreign direct investment in (setting up) an airline in India," he added.
Qatar Airways, which is among the top three Gulf carriers, has been exploring investment opportunities in the fast- growing Indian aviation market.
While announcing the plan, Al Baker said that it is yet to apply to the Indian government.
In June last year, the government had allowed foreign investors to own up to 100 per cent stake in local carriers by liberalising FDI regulations. Currently, foreign airlines are allowed to invest only up to 49 per cent in Indian carriers.
However, the revised norms provide room for overseas airlines to partner with a foreign non-airline player to set up a 100 per cent foreign-owned carrier in India.
While the FDI norms have been relaxed, the government is yet to amend the regulations with respect to Air Operator Permit (AOP).
At present, AOP is granted only to an airline where substantial ownership is with Indian entities.
On several occasions earlier, Qatar Airways -- which operates a significant number of flights from India to Qatar's capital city Doha -- had explored the possibility of buying stake in Indian budget carrier IndiGo.