Opportunities in India’s aviation network following the collapse of Jet Airways are being lapped up by Indian full-service carrier Vistara, propelling its international expansion into high gear. The airline commenced its first international flight connecting Delhi and Singapore on August 6, and its Mumbai-Singapore route last week. Coming up later this month are flights connecting India to Dubai and Bangkok. These three new destinations are the first of many to come under Vistara’s expansion plans, says Leslie Thng, Vistara’s ceo.
Thng said: “Our focus for 2019 is mainly on the short haul destinations in South-east Asia, the Middle East and South Asia. We plan to fly to Europe by 2020.” He added that Vistara has “plans eventually to fly to Australia non-stop”.
Currently, the airline connects 27 destinations with a fleet of 30 Airbus A320s and seven Boeing 737-800NG aircrafts. By the end of August, it will welcome another two 737s, and in the September to December 2019 period, nine A320 units. January to March 2020 will also see the addition of more A321s as well as the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
Vistara’s current fleet is on lease until 2023. They intend to own a fleet of aircraft – particularly the 787 Dreamliner and A320s – and the carrier is confident it will be able to “cross 100 aircraft in a number of years”.
On top of its existing agreements with Japan Airlines, British Airways and United Airlines, the Indian carrier has recently expanded its codeshare partnership with Singapore Airlines (SIA), and is in talks with other airlines. Under the expanded arrangement with SIA, Vistara plans to place its flight codes on 44 destinations across the US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.
However, the airline has no plans to join any air alliances in order to maintain its flexibility in choosing partners. “At this moment in the domestic market, we have about five per cent of the market share. It is dominated by low cost carriers. But India is a market that is growing, and demand for premium products will continue to grow,” Thng said. Following the exit of Jet Airways, Vistara has absorbed about 600 former staff of the airline.