Qatar Airways Wants More Indian Flight Rights Following Jet Airways Collapse

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In the aftermath of the Jet Airways collapse, Qatar Airways is seeking temporary additional seat capacity for flights from Doha to India. According to an article by the Press Trust of India (PTI) the airline has said it will be considering any proposal for partnership from Indian carriers. This news comes after a meeting was held on Friday between Civil aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola and top airline CEOs. The aim of the meeting was to discuss reallocation of unused foreign rights of Jet Airways.

Qatar Airways is seeking a partnership with an Indian airline and is asking for proposals. Photo: Flickr user spencer_wilmot

A formal request to the Indian authorities has been submitted for additional capacity on a “temporary operating permit basis” in order to meet the air traffic demand of Qatar-India routes. The request will “help evacuate the stranded Indian passengers in Doha”.

According to PTI, the allocated seat capacity in the Qatar-India aviation market has not been increased for nine years. Negotiations for bilateral air traffic rights between the two countries last took place in 2009.

Qatar Airways made the following statement to the PTI:

“Qatar Airways is always open for partnership with other airlines, including Indian carriers. We will seriously consider any proposal for partnership from Indian carriers.”

The blockade effect

The blockade by Gulf neighbors has had an impact for Qatar Airways flights to major Indian cities. This has resulted in the withdrawal of a number of flights and a reduction in capacity of others.

The Qatar Airways flights that do still operate consume more fuel than Indian flights. In fact, they must fly inefficient routes around the airspace of the blockade countries. However, codeshare flights could be operated by an Indian carrier and thus have permission to fly over the blockade nations. In the examples below we compare an Indigo flight to Qatar Airways to illustrate the different routing Qatar Airways must make due to the blockade.

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Indigo flight 6E1709 from Mumbai to Doha. Photo: Screenshot from FlightRadar24.com
Qatar Airways flight 557 from Mumbai to Doha. Photo: Screenshot from FlightRadar24.com

According to News18.com, demand made by SpiceJet and IndiGo are similar to each other as both of the carriers want more seat quota on the India-Gulf sector.

Indians in Qatar

In fact, this issue is important for Qataris with business in India. Indian businessmen, foreign workers, and students living or studying abroad in Doha suffer as well. The main consequences are less availability and higher airfares. The Qatar Airways statement also said:

“All these have resulted not only in lesser available seat capacity but also significantly higher air ticket fares, which is set to continue for at least another three months.”

According to an April 2018 article by the Gulf Times, the number of Indians living in Qatar is near 700,000. The total population of the Middle East nation is just 2.64 million. This means over 25% of the country’s population consists of Indian nationals.

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Speaking at a public event, P Kumaran, the Indian ambassador to Qatar said:

“We are the largest expatriate community in Qatar with the number of Indians reaching 691,000 as of now. The Indian community would like to express our gratitude to the leadership of Qatar for the great patronage given to the country.”

The April 2019 collapse of Jet Airways has reduced seat capacity between Doha and major Indian cities. Photo: Flickr user Nicky Boogaard

Qatar Airways in the news

Qatar Airways has made headlines consistently over the last few months as it looks for ways to expand its reach and compete with other Middle Eastern carriers, as well as seek other sources of revenue. The airline is giving up some of its aircraft and crew to Air Canada and Royal Air Maroc this summer in the form of a wet lease. Furthermore, it is leasing some of its aircraft to affiliated airline Air Italy.

Do you think any of the Indian airlines will submit a proposal? Which Indian airline would you like to see fly these routes?

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