Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker has confirmed plans to launch an Indian domestic carrier.
Speaking at German travel trade show ITB in Berlin, Al Baker said: “We will make an application to launch an airline in India. We’ll have a 100%-owned domestic carrier in India.”
He said the airline would be jointly owned by Qatar Airways and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority.
India’s government’s recently relaxed the country’s controls on foreign direct investment (FDI) in aviation.
The Indian carrier would be Qatar Airways’ first subsidiary, although the airline owns stakes in British Airways parent IAG and South American airline LATAM.
Al Baker said the airline application would be made “soon”.
Questioned about the impact of the latest US travel ban on six majority Muslim countries, Al Baker said: “I’m not going to comment on the political situation in any country. The US has a huge diaspora of people who live in our region. We don’t see any drop off in traffic.”
Qatar unveiled its new Qsuite business class seats at ITB in Berlin and plans to retro-fit its entire fleet by the middle of next year, beginning in June.
The first seats will go into service on Qatar’s Boeing 777 service from London Heathrow this summer.
Al Baker confirmed the airline holds “a global patent” on the design of the seat “and the details of that design”.
He declined to give details of the investment in the seat saying: “I don’t like to show off how much money I spend.”
A new economy seat is also under development which Al Baker described it as “a new concept”.
Referring to claims by US carriers Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines that Gulf carriers including Qatar have benefited from state subsidies, Al Baker said: “They have no excuse to grumble. They are making record profits – the highest in aviation history.
“President Trump is a businessman. I’m sure he will not entertain [their complaints].”
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