Leslie Thng, CEO, Vistara. 
Leslie Thng, CEO, Vistara. 

Vistara gets all clear to fly abroad

  • Vistara had sought govt clearance in June to fly on international routes
  • Vistara reported carrying 470,000 passengers with a domestic market share of 3.8% in Jan

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI : Full service carrier Vistara has been granted permission to fly international routes, civil aviation secretary ‎Pradeep Singh Kharola said on Wednesday.

The joint venture between Singapore Airlines Group and Tata Sons had sought government clearance last June when it added its 20th aircraft and became eligible for offering international service.

The license to fly international routes is a big boost to the airline seeking to spread its wings. In January 2019, Vistara reported carrying 4.7 lakh passengers with a domestic market share of 3.8% in a market dominated by IndiGo with over 42% and SpiceJet with 13.3%. Vistara’s market share in January is a marginal improvement over what was reported in the same time a year ago, as per official data available with the government.

Airlines were earlier required to fly for at least five years on domestic routes, and have a fleet of 20 aircraft before being allowed to fly international. The five year experience requirement was dropped in the 2016 civil aviation policy.

Vistara, which started operations in January 2015, now serves 24 destinations with over 730 flights a week with a fleet of 20 Airbus A320 aircraft.

A Vistara official said on condition of anonymity that the airline has crossed one more hurdle, but it is not there yet. “We are closely working with the ministry of civil aviation. Specific details will be shared at an appropriate time," a Vistara Spokesperson said.

Vistara had hoped to launch its international operations last year but did not get government approval then.The airline has already signed a letter of intent with Airbus, which includes 13 firm-ordered Airbus A320neo and A321neo aircraft, as well as options for seven more aircraft from the A320neo family.

Vistara will also lease another 37 new A320neo-family aircraft from leasing companies. The company has also inked letter of intent with Boeing for six firm-ordered 787-9 Dreamliner and purchase rights for four more aircraft from the 787 Dreamliner family.

While the narrow-body Airbus aircraft will be delivered between 2019 and 2023, the airline will take the delivery of six wide-body Boeing 787-900 (Dreamliner) aircraft between 2020 and 2021.

Vistara, one of the three full-service carriers in India, is the only local airline to have a premium economy class. Its 148-seater Airbus A320-200 offers three separate cabins—business, premium economy and economy class—while competitor Jet Airways has a two-class configuration that includes business and economy. National carrier Air India provides options for three classes to its passengers that include first class, business class and economy. 

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