At present, budget carrier AirAsia India, which is a joint venture between Malaysia's AirAsia group and India's Tata Sons, is the only local carrier which has its operational
base in Bengaluru.


Akbar Al Baker, Chief Executive Officer of the Doha-based full service carrier, had last month announced in Berlin that Qatar Airways was going to join hands with the
investment arm of State of Qatar to start a domestic airline in India with a 100 per cent investment.


 "Qatar Airways proposed Indian subsidiary is likely to make Bengaluru as its base instead of Delhi or Mumbai," an industry source said. Qatar Airways, which is among the top three Gulf carriers, has been exploring investment opportunities in India.


The source also said that the new airline is expected provide connectivity first from the southern India cities to other parts of the country and then expand to other regions. Significantly, six cities of the total 13 that Qatar Airways flies to in India are in the South.


 A Qatar Airways spokesperson, in an e-mail response to PTI queries, declined to comment on the issue. "We cannot comment anything at this stage," the
spokesperson said.

 Though Qatar Airways is yet to apply for government's permission for setting up a domestic airline here, it has already started giving shape to its plans with the appointment
of a local headhunter to hire fresh talent as well as professionals from the existing domestic carriers. Significantly, the Persian Gulf carrier has been eyeing the fast growing domestic air passenger market, which became the third largest, beating Japan, after the US and China in 2016.


 "We are doing this (setting up a domestic airline in India) because Indian government has opened up the foreign direct investment in (setting up) an airline in India,"
Al-baker had said on March 8.