Indian premium carrier Kingfisher Airlines will be operating flights to Doha soon, a source told The Peninsula yesterday.
The airline is owned by the flamboyant billionaire Vijay Mallya, who is also Kingfisher Chairman and considered to be India's Sir Richard Branson when it comes to aviation. Kingfisher will be operating flights to the cities of Bangalore, its home base, Mumbai and Calicut. The source said: "It will happen soon, perhaps over the next three to four months."
Kingfisher's frequencies to Doha and pricing are yet to be determined.
The airline will be operating Airbus A320s on Gulf routes. Kingfisher has 51 of the aircraft and some of them will be removed from domestic Indian routes and used for short-haul international flights such as to Doha in a two-class configuration.
Earlier, the India-Gulf sector used to be operated by state-owned Air-India and Indian Airlines. Jet Airways recently started flights to Doha and other points in the Gulf and Kingfisher will be next on the list.
After repeated pleas to remove the monopoly of state-owned carriers on international routes, the Indian government relented and ruled airlines that have been in existence for five years would be allowed to ply on international routes. With that as a condition, Kingfisher, which came into existence in 2005, would have had to wait until 2010 to fly overseas.
However, a merger with low-cost carrier Air Deccan allowed Kingfisher an entry. Deccan was formed in 2003 and this month, significantly, it will be five years old, thereby clearing the path for Kingfisher.
Other than Qatar, Kingfisher is expected to start flights to the UAE, Kuwait, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bangladesh and Pakistan. However, its first international destination will be London Heathrow. Later in the year, it will start operations to San Francisco.
This is a good start if you ask me. It means that flights will not be so crowded on QR.
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