Browsing 'india' News

Indigo/Facebook

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Starting next month, low-cost carrier Indigo will begin flying daily non-stop to two popular Indian cities from Doha.

The budget airline’s new routes to Delhi and Mumbai should give residents a new cheaper option when flying to the subcontinent.

According to Indigo’s website, Flight 6E 1701 will leave Delhi at 1:50am and arrive in Doha at 3:30 am. The carrier will return on Flight 6E 1702, which will leave Doha at 1:30pm and arrive in Delhi at 8pm.

Brian Candy/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Meanwhile, flight 6E 1708 will leave Mumbai at 11:20am and arrive in Doha at 12:30pm. Flight 6E1709 will make the return journey at 4:30am, arriving in Mumbai at 10:20am.

In a statement, Indigo’s president Aditya Ghosh said adding the Doha service is part of its growth strategy in the Middle East.

“Being an economic and cultural hub of Qatar, Doha attracts a lot of business and leisure tourists.

IndiGo has established itself as a preferred carrier on India-Gulf routes. We are hopeful that this daily service would also prove equally popular with our flyers.”

Competitors

Indians comprise Qatar’s largest demographic group, numbering more than 650,000 people, or about a quarter of the population.

India is also a popular tourist destination for residents.

Currently, Jet Airways and Qatar Airways already fly directly to Delhi seven days a week. But fares on both carriers for a one-week trip to Delhi starting May 5 average around QR1,750.

Arian Zweggers/Flickr

India Gate, New Delhi

Indigo conversely charges about QR1,000, though that price does not include amenities such as meal service or seat selection.

Competition is stiffer on the Mumbai route, which three airlines already fly direct to, including Jet, Qatar Airways and Air-India Express.

But once again, Indigo appears to have some of the lowest prices on offer (QR803 versus up to QR1,800).

According to local media reports, Indigo is planning to expand its Doha service to include more Indian cities in the future.

Are you excited about the new offering? Thoughts?

Qatar Airways/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar Airways made waves this week after its CEO announced plans to enter the fast-growing Indian market via a wholly-owned domestic carrier.

But in a possible jab at a Gulf competitor, Akbar Al Baker has pledged to take that expansion one step at a time.

According to the Financial Times, he said:

“We want to do (this) one by one, step by step, so that we don’t put so much food in our mouths that we cannot chew, like some airlines did before.”

“Some airlines” could be a reference to Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, which has invested in some struggling European carriers, the FT reports.

It added that the Indian market is an important one for Gulf carriers because it offers a growing clientele.

Pushback

Earlier this week, Al Baker told reporters that he plans to operate a full-service airline in India, not a budget one.

It would initially operate 100 single-aisle aircraft such as Airbus A320s or Boeing 737s, he added.

Boeing

Qatar Airways 737 Max

The move comes after India’s government relaxed requirements for foreign investment in the country.

Qatar Airways has yet to apply for the appropriate license, but domestic carriers in India are already pushing back.

According to Indian publication Mint, they are lobbying against the carrier for several reasons.

These include:

  • Reciprocity concerns, as Qatar does not allow foreign carriers to operate their own wholly-owned airlines in Doha;
  • Unspecified questions about national security; and
  • A strong belief that control of the aviation sector remain in local hands.

Thoughts?

UN/Flickr

Sushma Swaraj, Minister for External Affairs of India, addressing the UN in 2015.

India’s External Affairs Minister has ordered an investigation into reports that two nationals in Qatar have been severely abused by their employer.

In a series of tweets yesterday, Sushma Swaraj said she is seeking to hold both their sponsor and the agent who sent them to Qatar responsible.

Swaraj was responding to a Times of India report about two expats who sought jobs in Qatar in October.

They said they were betrayed by their agent and ended up on an animal farm in which their employer beat them “mercilessly.”

According to TOI, one man said “it’s “better to be thrown in jail than suffer like we are suffering.”

The Indian embassy has not commented publicly on the matter, nor have any Qatari officials.

Human rights concerns

The news comes at a time when Qatar is leaning heavily on foreign labor to complete major construction projects ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

Because the laborers primarily come from poor Asian and African nations, rights groups have expressed concerns about exploitation of this vulnerable group.

Simon Tull/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar’s government has been working to improve conditions for the hundreds of thousands of men who comprise its working class.

But as explained in a recent documentary, many workers feel ostracized from society because they live outside of the city. By law, they are not allowed to reside in family-filled neighborhoods).

The low pay (usually no more than $400 a month) and long hours, as well as potentially unsafe working conditions also remain an issue.

Also yesterday, Swaraj tweeted:

Thoughts?