Aviation News

Vistara Airlines eyes flights to the United States from the fourth quarter of 2021

Vistara Airlines, a joint venture between Tata Group and Singapore Airlines, plans to start nonstop long-haul flights to the United States between October and December 2021, said Vinod Kannan, Chief Commercial Officer, Vistara.

Nonstop to the United States

Vistara is eyeing nonstop flights between India and the United States. This comes after Vistara recently got foreign air carrier permit the Department of Transportation (DOT) to operate flights to the US.

Kannan, in a statement to Livemint, said:

Having received a temporary foreign air carrier permit from the department of transportation, USA, we are hopeful of starting long-haul operations to the US in the last quarter of the year.

The full service carrier is also evaluating opportunities to operate similar flights to other international destinations. Kannan added:

The strong preference for non-stop, direct connectivity among customers has been a source of encouragement for us.

Vistara had in 2018 placed an order for 50 Airbus A320neos and Airbus A321neos in addition to six Boeing B787-9 Dreamliners, as it wanted to expand its international network.

Since then, the carrier flew to nearby international countries such as Singapore, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Sri Lanka before the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to suspend international operations.

The airline now flies to three international destinations: London, Frankfurt and Doha. However, Vistara has permission to operate special international flights under the bilateral air bubble to eight destinations, including Dhaka, Dubai, Sharjah, Malé, and Tokyo. The airline was scheduled to operate its inaugural flight to Tokyo on 16th June 2021 but has delayed its launch due to ‘operational reasons’. The inaugural flight is now scheduled to take-off on 7th July 2021.

Kannan said:

These operations have not only helped us to introduce Vistara in markets that were already part of our expansion plans, but have also helped us make inroads into new geographies, paving the way for a strong foothold for Vistara in global aviation. Having said that, a recovery in international operations depends on various factors, including the governments of the two countries agreeing to open borders to each other. With vaccines being administered across the globe, we hope to see a positive outcome

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Presently, Vistara has 47 aircrafts in its fleet, including 36 Airbus A320s, six Boeing B737-800s and two Boeing B787-9 Dreamliners. The carrier recently took delivery of its first owned Airbus A320neo aircraft.

Kannan added:

We expect to receive the remaining four Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft by mid-2022 along with more from the order we placed with Airbus for A321neo and A320neo aircraft. Overall, we aim to have around 70 aircraft by 2023.

Older Boeing 737-800NG aircraft in the airline’s fleet, which are on short term lease, will be phased out gradually, he said.

Rating agency Crisil Limited expects the second wave of COVID-19 to push back revival of business travel and pick-up of international traffic. Crisil, in a report released on 10th June, said that air passenger traffic volumes this fiscal year are expected to be about 60% of fiscal 2020 levels with recovery to pre-pandemic levels happening only by the fourth quarter of fiscal 2023.

An analyst tracking the aviation sector for a foreign brokerage said that Vistara’s international expansion plans remain on track despite the pandemic because of the strong financials of its promoters.

The analyst said:

The grounding of Jet Airways (in 2019) left the market with only one Indian full service carrier (Air India Limited) catering to long-haul destinations. Vistara senses an opportunity and is scaling up its international presence.

Vistara will very likely be launching flights to the United States from two of India’s biggest cities, Mumbai and Delhi. While there are various options in terms of destinations in the US for Vistara, New York, San Francisco and Chicago are the most popular routes from India. Presently, only two airlines operate nonstop flights between India and the US: Air India and United Airlines. American will be launching flights to New Delhi and Bengaluru later this year.

Featured image by Vistara

What do you think of Vistara’s plans to operate nonstop flights between India and the United States? Let me know in the comments section below.

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