“About four years back, we did show interest to partner with Mr Ratan Tata (for jointly bidding for AI). At that time he was not interested because they were already partner with Vistara (Singapore Airlines) and AirAsia. He at that time did not think of investing in AI. If Tata would have agreed to partner with us, we would have bid for AI that time. The (Tata’s bidding for AI last year) change of mind happened recently,” Qatar Airways Group chief government Akbar Al Baker advised TOI from Doha on Tuesday.
The 2018 divestment course of noticed nobody expressing curiosity. In the second try final 12 months, the Tatas, utilizing their 84%-owned AirAsia India platform, have emerged because the frontrunners to get AI.
Comments have been sought from Tata Group on this and are awaited.
But cash-rich QA has not given up on the “huge aviation market” that’s India. It is prepared to associate with Rahul Bhatia’s IndiGo when it decides to go lengthy haul.
(*4*) Baker, who holds a personal pilot license, stated.
During the pandemic QA obtained SOS for funding from some cash-starved Indian carriers (not IndiGo) which it turned down. “We did were approached by Indian carriers through bankers to be partners (stake sale, funding) during the pandemic. IndiGo didn’t approach us because they don’t need to they as they are a very efficiently run organisation.”
“All Indian carriers today must be under lot of stress. The entire aviation industry around the world, including us, are under financial stress as the (passenger) volumes we need to efficiently run our business is not there. Fortunately Qatar Airways being the largest cargo carrier in the world, we have been able to run the organisation to some kind of normalcy. Otherwise it would have been very difficult.”
Covid has fuelled demand for direct journey between India and remainder of the world. Will it have an effect on Gulf and airways with hubs in different close by areas in a post-pandemic world? “Indian market is so large that even if you exercise all the traffic rights that you have ad you have given to others that you will not be able to satisfy the demand. The demand is so huge from India. India is growing to be a very large aviation market,” Al Baker stated.
A return to the House of Tatas is extensively seen as a potential means for AI to regain its misplaced glory. Asked if he sees Tata-owned AI as critical competitors, Al Baker stated, “I am sure it will be.”
“I wish Mr Ratan Tata all the best. He is a good friend. I really congratulate him for trying to buy the household silver that once upon a time was nationalised. AI was launched and belonged to Tatas once upon a time. Those were its golden days,” stated Al Baker, who did his education from India and flew AI in its heydays incessantly.
Coming to assistance from Covid-ravaged India, Qatar Airways had on Monday despatched a three-aircraft convoy of Boeing 777 freighters to Covid-ravaged India carrying 300 tonnes of help from around the globe. This cargo included PPE gear, oxygen canisters and different important medical objects.
“Having seen with great sorrow the impact this further wave of COVID-19 infections has had on people in India, we knew we had to be part of the global effort to support the valiant health care workers in the country. As the leading air cargo carrier in the world, we are in a unique position to offer immediate humanitarian support through the provision of aircraft to transport much needed medical supplies, as well as coordinating logistical arrangements. We hope today’s shipment and further shipments in the weeks to come will help ease the burden on local medical workers and provide relief to the impacted communities in India,” Al baker had stated on Monday.