The partnership will let Indian passengers to seamlessly fly to countries such as the US, Australia and New Zealand through Singapore Airlines’ hub at Changi Airport, David Lim, Singapore Airlines’ general manager for India, said in an interview.
Vistara, a joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, began international operations in August by announcing Singapore as its first overseas destination.
“For Vistara, we have been progressively cooperating. We (currently) have a codeshare and lounge facility," Lim said, adding Singapore Airlines plans to deepen its relationship with Vistara in future.
Gurugam-based Vistara currently operates flights to Singapore, Bangkok and Dubai using its narrow-body planes. Flights to Colombo will commence on 25 November.
The airline also plans to fly to other destinations in South-East Asia and West Asia, and look at long-haul flights only after it takes delivery of wide-body planes next year.
Vistara had in October entered into a codeshare pact with Singapore Airlines and its regional unit SilkAir, which allowed the airline’s passengers to access about 35 destinations in Asia Pacific, Australia and New Zealand, through its partner flights. As a result, Vistara has now added its ‘UK’ designated code to Singapore Airlines and SilkAir-operated flights beyond Singapore to Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia, among others.
In the last few years, Singapore Airlines has witnessed a growing number of Indian travellers fly to Singapore for their onward journey to the US west coast, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, Lim said adding this has led the airline to boost capacity from cities like New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata by introducing new and bigger planes.
Singapore Airlines and its subsidiaries like SilkAir and no-frill carrier Scoot, currently operate over 140 weekly flights from India to Singapore from cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad. SilkAir and Scoot connect Singapore with smaller cities like Amritsar, Lucknow, Visakhapatnam, Kochi and Coimbatore. In the past year, the airline has grown capacity by operating newer aircraft like Boeing 787, Airbus A350 and A380, from New Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Mumbai among other cities.
Singapore Airlines has also increased flights from Chennai in a bid to take over routes from its no-frill unit Scoot next year.
Singapore Airlines operates about 28,000 weekly seats between India and Singapore under the current bilateral agreement between the two countries, Lim said adding the airline has room to increase flights by another 8% under the agreement.
“However, getting slots in busy airports like Mumbai and New Delhi is always a challenge," Lim added.
Singapore Airlines currently operates about 35,000 weekly seats between India and Singapore, many of which are under the open sky policy, and do not fall under bilateral agreement between the two countries.
India remains a key market for Singapore Airlines even though domestic airlines like Vistara and IndiGo are increasingly expanding their international reach.
“India is still a very competitive market. But, since Singapore Airlines has been established for so many years, and that customers know the service …We continue to add to our customer base," Lim said.
“In fact for the Indian customers, especially from South India, Singapore Airlines is the fastest way to reach the west coast of the US. We have seen traffic (from India) to destinations beyond (Singapore) grow a lot in the last few years," Lim said adding Indians are increasing travelling to destinations like Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand besides the US west coast through Singapore.