Vistara plans big foreign launch in Asia market

Proposing to launch its international operations soon, Vistara plans to operate flights to popular foreign tourist destinations of Bangkok, Phuket, Colombo and Male. That would make Vistara the second full-service carrier to go overseas after Jet Airways, which began flying on foreign routes almost a decade-and-a-half back. The move is set to offer consumers more flying choices at competitive ticket prices.

Backed by the Tata group and global aviation biggie Singapore International Airlines (SIA), the startup carrier is set to trigger a price war on these routes. The plans on the table now are for the airline to operate seven flights a week, comprising 1,148 seats, to each city and it is currently in the process of taking regulatory approvals, an industry source said.

Bird group executive director Ankur Bhatia gave a thumbs-up to the choice of Vistara’s first set of international destinations, saying it will give the airline experience to launch medium and long-haul flights from India in future.
“The airline would have a ready-made distribution set-up in those markets and so it will do well. If they maintain service level consistency and have good flight timings, they will certainly be very successful,” he said.

For the winter schedule that starts from October and ends in March, Vistara plans to operate daily flights to the Gulf, Bangladesh and Singapore.

SIA has its base in Singapore and Vistara will be able to leverage that connection in its efforts to score over its competitors in terms of onward passenger traffic, airport charges and distribution network.

“Because all the sectors Vistara has proposed to fly to are growing, I don’t think it will eat into the competition. But as soon as they start operations, there is bound to be some pressure on rivals,” Bhatia said.

One of the fast-growing airlines, Vistara now operates a fleet of 21 aircraft. It recently agreed to place firm orders with Airbus for 13 aircraft from the A320neo family and with Boeing for six 787-9 Dreamliners. Together, the deals are valued at $3.1 billion, based on published list prices.

Vistara’s international operations would help its parent SIA to pick up passengers for its long-haul flights. Singapore Airlines recently announced that it would launch non-stop flights between Singapore and Los Angeles from November.

It is set to get feed from India for its ultra long-haul flight to the US.

Nirbhay Kumar