Qatar Airways (QA) had reached out to Tatas four years back to jointly bid for Air India when the government had made its first attempt to sell off the Maharaja.
“About four years back, we did show interest to partner with Mr Ratan Tata (for jointly bidding for AI). At that time he was not interested because they were already partner with Vistara (Singapore Airlines) and AirAsia.
He at that time did not think of investing in AI. If Tata would have agreed to partner with us, we would have bid for AI that time. The (Tata’s bidding for AI last year) change of mind happened recently,” Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar Al Baker told TOI from Doha on Tuesday.
The 2018 divestment process saw no one expressing interest. In the second attempt last year, the Tatas, using their 84%-owned AirAsia India platform, have emerged as the frontrunners to get AI.
Comments have been sought from Tata Group on this and are awaited.
But cash-rich QA has not given up on the “huge aviation market” that is India. It is ready to partner with Rahul Bhatia’s IndiGo when it decides to go long haul.