Vistara, a joint venture passenger airline between Tata Sons and Singapore Airline, plans to begin international operations in the second half of this year. Leslie Thng, Vistara’s CEO, says that, once the airline takes its twenty-second (22) aircraft in June, it will be in a position to begin foreign operations.
All of the 22 planes that Vistara will have in June will have been produced by Airbus. Thirteen will be A320ceo, and nine will be A320neo.
Vistara hasn’t yet announced specific destinations, but the airline says that new destinations will be somewhere in the Gulf or Southern Asia region.
“We have not shared the name of any particular destination. However, our CEO Leslie Thng has confirmed that our international operations would start with short-haul destinations in the surrounding regions such as gulf and SE Asia,” said a statement released by the airline.
”If you look at the A320 and their range in terms of where they can fly, we are looking at four to five hours [of flight]. It is going to be regional, it is going to be in the Gulf, South East Asia. For the initial plan, this is where we are venturing into,” Thng told reporters in New Delhi. “We are studying a lot of routes, which include routes that have no direct connectivity from India, and also routes which are high traffic routes from India.”
Current Indian regulations require domestic passenger airlines to have least 20 aircraft in their fleet before starting international operations. Vistara currently has 17 planes in its fleet, but it will take five aircraft through the first half of this year.
“Technically, with our 21st aircraft in May, we should be able to go international then. But we need to have some time to prepare ourselves for regulators … we are looking at second half of 2018. If all things go on well then we will try to bring it forward if possible,” Thng said.
Thng says that, as Vistara begins to expand its views into mid-haul international destinations, it will need to look at aircraft that can sustain up to nine hours of flight. Vistara hasn’t chosen a plane and says that it is open to manufacturers other than Airbus.
”We don’t have any firm plans, we are still in discussions as to how and when we are intending to this. We are planning our international operations in a progressive manner, meaning we will start with the regional and short haul, and then progress to medium haul, and eventually long haul,” Thng said.
In addition, Thng says that the carrier needs to be “more aggressive” about adding new planes to its fleet; it currently adds 5-6 new planes per year.
Vistara has also expressed interest in partnering with global airlines in order to sell more new routes in a variety of countries.
“When we go international in country A we are not going to fly many, many destinations there, we will need a player who can support us for the feed so that we can sell more destinations in country A,” said Thng. ”When we go international we need to beef up our own domestic network because our primary hub will still be in Delhi. To go international, we need to build up connectivity between Delhi and all the different metros and tier-2 and tier 3 cities so that we can provide connectivity both ways.”
This isn’t the only new expansion that Vistara has announced recently. It recently announced the addition of Chennai to its network; service will start on February 15.
Vistara currently serves 22 destinations with over 700 flights per week.
Featured image from Wikimedia Commons