Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker at an interview recently, had stated that the carrier intends to launch two more destinatons in India in the near future."We have many plans in India, which I will not disclose as I love giving surprises." further said he. Where could QR be eyeing at ?
QR presently serves the following destinations in India.
There are only a few more international airports in India with notable international services, that the carrier is not serving and it is from these that we have to pick our guesses from. Let's have a look at them.
Amausi Airport, Lucknow, LKO
LKO presently has connections to the Middle East from Air India Express ( DXB ), flydubai ( DXB ), Indian ( SHJ ), Oman Air ( MCT) and Saudi Arabian ( DMM, JED and RUH ).
Coimbatore Airport, CJB
Served by Air Arabia ( SHJ).
Jaipur Airport, JAI
Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan is served by Air Arabia ( SHJ ), Air India Express ( DXB ) and Oman Air ( MCT ).
The Eastern-most of the list, the airport has a connection to the Middle East with Emirates ( DXB).
Mangalore Airport, IXE
Mangalore will get its first international service on 27th Feb when Jet Airways will connect it with Sharjah.
Nagpur Airport, NAG
The airport serving the city of Nagpur, has Air Arabia to Sharjah as its sole connection to the Middle East.
Pune is connected to the Middle East in present by Air India Express ( DXB ), while the airport also has the notable connection to Frankfurt with Lufthansa ( operated by PrivatAir).
Tiruchirapally is connected to the Middle East by Air India Express ( AUH, DXB).
When considering these destinations LKO seems to be already very well covered by the Mid Eastern carriers ( although you can never say no when it comes to QR), while JAI is in too close proximity to Delhi, the latter which QR serves twice daily. CJB is a city of supply for the Indian labour traffic, however the catchment area seems to be too small to warrwnt a full fare carrier service - as seen by previous experiments of airlines like SriLankan .
Pune is known to be a destination with a relatively higher yield, however with its main catchment areas already well covered, this might not be one of the ideal destinations for QR.However the shorter runway means Emirates will not be able to serve Pune, and is an opportunity which QR can make work. Kolkata is the only major Indian metro presently not served by QR. Although not one of the most attractive destinations to QR in terms of traffic and the flying time, CCU remains a strong candidate to be one of QR's next two Indian destinations.
Mangalore is yet another airport only suitable only for narrowbodies and will ensure a lower competition than other airports. However whether QR can serve IXE profitably in the long term still remains to be seen. Nevertheless, if QR wants a challenge, this is the place to go. Last but not least, Tiruchirapally is one of the destinations which QR might be able to serve profitably. The airport is a significant source of labor traffic - most of which presently transits through Colombo - and remains the strongest candidate to become one of QR' next two Indian destinations.
Those are my guesses. What are yours ? Leave a comment and let everyone know.