Qatar Airways wants to buy a stake in Indian low-cost airline IndiGo, said the company's CEO in a conference in Doha.
"If IndiGo offers us 49%, Qatar Airways would be extremely interested," Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker told reporters on the sidelines of the unveiling of the new Airbus A350-900 in Doha.
He said that India should open up to carriers such as Qatar Airways as they are already established. "We would be able to deliver what they (India) want faster than all the new entrants in the Indian market," Al Baker said. "Qatar Airways will always have a very keen interest in growing in India and investing in the aviation industry in India."
However, he ruled out buying stake in SpiceJet or GoAir. He said Indigo is the only efficient carrier in India but added that the country cannot depend on only one airline. Qatar Airways competes with regional rivals Emirates and Etihad Airways as the state-backed carriers compete for wider global reach with expanded fleets.
Al Baker acknowledged the presence of Vistara and AirAsia in the Indian aviation market but said airlines don't grow overnight. "They need at least five to 10 years to really deliver the potential India requires," he said.
He said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' initiative should include aviation sector as an important tool to realise his vision for the country but that should include aviation.
"You cannot talk about 'Make in India' unless you open up the air services to India, the airways to India to fulfil the vision he (Modi) has," he said. "It is extremely important for the Prime Minister to put the aviation growth in India as priority," Al Baker said, adding that India has already lost Kingfisher while other airlines such as Spicejet and AirIndia are struggling.
He also said that he has approached diplomatic channels in order to arrange a meeting with Modi to look at future investment opportunities in the aviation sector. Earlier this May, Qatar's sovereign wealth fund bought stakes in its national airline, making it a completely government-owned entity.