Vistara plans overseas flights to tap rising global travel from India

Vistara plans overseas flights to tap rising global travel from India

The Tata-Singapore Air venture to start with short-haul international destinations.

Vistara, the Indian full-service carrier co-owned by Singapore Airlines, plans to start international flights later this year, seeking to capitalize on the rising demand for overseas travel from Asia’s third-largest economy. Vistara will initially operate flights to short-haul destinations using narrow body Airbus A320 jetliners, Chief Executive Officer Leslie Thng said in an interview. The service would be eventually expanded to cover medium-haul and long-haul routes, he said.

“Our plan is to start international operations in the second half of this year with our existing fleet of Airbus A320s and fly to destinations within the aircraft’s range,” he said.

Thng said Vistara is evaluating the type of widebody planes it will induct for the proposed medium-haul and long-haul flights. He declined to elaborate on the international operations strategy including the destinations. Vistara is run by TATA SIA Airlines, a company owned 51% by India’s Tata Sons, which controls the diversified Tata Group, and 49% by Singapore Airlines.

The three-year-old airline will join flag carrier Air India, Jet Airways, IndiGo, and SpiceJet who operate international flights. Analysts expect Vistara to tap into the global expertise of Singapore Airlines to compete with its established rivals on the overseas routes. International traffic to and from India has been rising steadily as an expanding economy and growing disposable incomes boost demand for business and leisure travel. Millions of expatriate Indians are also helping fill up more airplanes to and from the South Asian country.

International air traffic to and from India has jumped more than threefold since 2004-05 to about 55 million passengers in the fiscal year ended March 31, according to government data. Indian airlines carried 13% more international passengers in the last fiscal year to about 20.6 million passengers. The growth was faster than the previous year’s 7.9% rise and a 9.2% growth in 2014-15. Foreign carriers such as Lufthansa and Emirates, in comparison, carried about 34 million passengers last fiscal year, recording an 8% growth.

Freight traffic from India is also expanding. It rebounded 7.8% last fiscal year, up from a 2.7% increase in 2015-16, and 8.4% increase in 2014-15.


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