Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad Int'l) has once more reiterated its plans to enter the Indian market, this time through an airline wholly-owned by its parent firm.

Airline Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Akbar al Baker told a media conference at the ongoing ITB Berlin Travel Trade Show that the Qatar Investment Authority, Qatar's sovereign wealth fund and Qatar Airways parent, would be the most suitable vehicle for establishing the carrier. The QIA would then use Qatar Airways to run the venture, he said. Al Baker told The Times of India an application would soon be made to the Indian government for approval. Once operational, the carrier would operate up to 100 narrowbody aircraft, he added.

It is recalled that in an effort to foster greater investment in the country's aviation sector, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government last year relaxed investment laws governing foreign ownership of local carriers.

Under its revised terms, sovereign wealth funds have been permitted to own up to 51% of Indian scheduled passenger airlines. Foreign carriers are, however, still capped at a maximum of 49%. Government approval must be secured for any investment and it is here that the proposal may falter.

According to The Hindu newspaper, a senior Ministry of Civil Aviation official has confirmed that the Indian government has put its proposal to dilute the new investment law's substantial ownership and effective control (SOEC) clause on hold following opposition from the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA).

The report states SpiceJet (SG, Delhi Int'l) Chairman Ajay Singh and IndiGo Airlines (6E, Delhi Int'l) President Aditya Ghosh are expected to raise the topic of Qatar Airways' market entry during an audience with Civil Aviation Secretary R.N. Choubey on Friday, March 10.