India to examine if foreign airlines can fully own local carriers through investment partners

India's civil aviation secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey said on Friday it was not possible for a foreign airline to fully own an Indian carrier, but will examine whether it can be done through an investment partner.

A Qatar Airways plane. AP image

A Qatar Airways plane. AP image

Choubey also said the government had not received any proposal from Qatar Airways to start a local airline.

Last week, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said he wanted to set up a full service Indian carrier to fly domestic routes with around 100 narrowbody planes, now that the country has opened up the airline industry to foreign investors.

Under current rules, foreign airlines are still restricted to holding a maximum stake of 49 percent in Indian carriers, but other foreign investors may own up to 100 percent.

Qatar Airways, which is among the top three Gulf carriers, has been exploring investment opportunities in the fast-growing Indian aviation market.

"We are joining hands with the investment arm of State of Qatar to start a domestic airline in India with a 100 percent investment," Al Baker had said at a press meet in Berlin recently.

"We are doing this because Indian government has opened up the foreign direct investment in (setting up) an airline in India," he had added.

While announcing the plan, Al Baker had said it is yet to apply to the Indian government.

Last June, India allowed foreign investors -- barring overseas airlines -- to own up to 100 percent stake in local carriers by liberalising FDI regulations.

(With Reuters, PTI inputs)

Updated Date: Mar 17, 2017 12:34 PM

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