Qatar Airways, the flag carrier of Qatar, and IndiGo, India’s largest passenger airline, have signed a codeshare agreement which would strengthen the latter’s international operations. This agreement would enable Qatar Airways, named the ‘World’s Best Airline’ by the 2019 World Airline Awards, to place its code on IndiGo flights between Doha and Delhi, Mumbai, and Hyderabad. The first codeshare flights would be operated from December 18.

Interestingly, Qatar Airways group chief executive Akbar Al Baker said that the airline was interested in buying a stake in IndiGo, but the time wasn’t right. Al Baker was referring to the internal issues IndiGo is dealing with because of its warring co-promoters, Rakesh Gangwal and Rahul Bhatia.

“We are always keen to buy stake in successful airlines whether it is IndiGo or some other airline ... this is not the right time as there is some disagreement between the airline's stakeholders and we will wait for those issues to get resolved before” `taking a decision on the future, Al Baker told news channel CNBC-TV18. He added that Qatar Airways was no longer interested in buying a stake in Air India.

“We are extremely proud to secure this strategic partnership with IndiGo, the largest airline in one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets. We believe this agreement will be just the first step in strengthening our relationship and we very much look forward to working together to harness our complementary strengths and resources to enhance the travel experience for our passengers around the world,” Al Baker said.

Qatar Airways currently operates 102 weekly flights between Qatar’s capital Doha and 13 destinations in India—Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Mumbai, Nagpur, and Thiruvananthapuram.

“This strategic alliance will not only strengthen our international operations, but also boost economic growth in India, by bringing in more traffic and heralding opportunities for trade and tourism through seamless mobility,” said Ronojoy Dutta, IndiGo’s chief executive officer.

“We are confident of a successful partnership. These are exciting times for the aviation industry and it is our commitment to remain focussed in building one of the best air transportation systems in the world.”

IndiGo has strengthened its position in outbound travel from India, having launched flights to Vietnam, Myanmar, China, and Saudi Arabia in the current fiscal. It is India’s largest passenger airline with a domestic market share of 47% as of August 2019 and is amongst the fastest-growing carriers in the world. With its fleet of over 240 aircraft, the airline offers almost 1,500 daily flights and connects to 60 domestic destinations and 23 international destinations.

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