India’s largest carrier by fleet and domestic market share – IndiGo, announced a one-way codeshare with Qatari flag carrier Qatar Airways. The codeshare, interestingly, is a one-way codeshare where Qatar Airways will place its code between Doha and Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad. For what was believed to be a big strategic announcement, this came as making mountain of a mole.
IndiGo offers double daily services between Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad to Doha. The codeshare flights are open for sale effective 18th December 2019.
Qatar Airways operates 102 weekly flights to India while IndiGo connects Doha with Ahmedabad, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kochi, Calicut, Mumbai and Trivandrum. IndiGo is the second largest carrier at Doha by departure seats offered.
Read: IndiGo announces flights to Doha. Will it interline?
IndiGo’s CEO Ronojoy Dutta has said that they need a lot of work to be completed on the IT systems side before a full-fledged codeshare can be signed and this comes from the experience with the Turkish Airlines codeshare.
A full service codeshare could make Doha and Qatar Airways the gateway to Africa – where Qatar Airways has a sizable presence and there is a significant traffic from India, which today travels via one of the middle eastern carriers or the few African carriers which fly to metros in India.
Benefit to Qatar?
Qatar Airways has been asking for more seats to India for a very long time but subsequent governments have not allotted any additional seats to Qatar, even when Dubai and Abu Dhabi – where the competitors of Qatar Airways are based has got ample seats in the last few years. Recently, Saudi Arabia had its entitlement increased.
While Emirates has 5x daily flights between Dubai and Mumbai, Qatar has to be content with just a single flight. With feed from India a major factor in the middle eastern carriers Europe and N.America plan, the lack of additional seats from India would have been hurting its pricing power for a while. For the last two years, Qatar Airways is also battling its regional blockade where most of its neighbors have blocked their airspace for Qatari aircraft.
IndiGo operates double daily flights from the three metros where the one-way codeshare is effective. With the current equipment of IndiGo, a mix of A321neo and A320ceo/neo, the flights offer 8148 seats each way between the three cities and Doha.
Qatar has a cap of 24293 weekly seats between Doha and designated points in India with a variation of 2% being accommodated. While all seats of IndiGo would not be on offer in the codeshare, this just gives the importance of how IndiGo can help Qatar in a big manner. Data released by DGCA shows that the passengers from India to Qatar numbered over four and half lakh in Q1 of 2019, while those to UAE numbered over 24 lakhs for the same period.
The move is a smart one from IndiGo. Trade and travel is growing with India becoming a major regional power. However, I was expecting this to be a two-way codeshare where IndiGo offers destinations in the African continent where Qatar Airways has a good presence.
While the commercials will be tightly wrapped, this will help IndiGo increase profitability with seats being sold by a large network carrier which lacks seats to India.
IndiGo aimed for 20 destinations under codeshare with Turkish Airlines beyond Istanbul and the airline has not been able to get all of them operational as yet, almost a year since the announcement. Turkish also has its code placed on domestic flights in India, unlike Qatar Airways.
Turkish is a Star Alliance member while Qatar is part of OneWorld. Both of these are large carriers and while Turkish has been on the wrong side of India in recent times, relations with Qatar have been treading a thin line.