- Vistara might be commencing direct flights to the United States
- Right now, Air India is the only Indian airline which is offering direct flights to the U.S.
- Vistara has seen a surge in demand for non-stop flights, as passengers try to avoid stopovers to reduce the risk of getting infected
THoD Newsdesk, Singapore: Vistara, an Indian full-service airline helmed by Tata Group and Singapore Airlines, might be commencing direct flights to the United States as the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand for non-stop travel, a senior executive stated, on Friday. Although the particular time period for it and other aircraft requirements are yet to be resolved, Vistara has been analyzing various scenarios for direct flights, Vinod Kannan, chief commercial officer, was quoted saying in an interview.
The pandemic has brought air travel to an abrupt halt, in wake of the imposed travel bans and even though travel has resumed to a certain extent, the low occupancy rates state that a full-fledged revival could take years. Vistara has seen a surge in demand for non-stop flights, as passengers try to avoid stopovers to reduce the risk of getting infected.
Right now, Air India is the only Indian airline which is offering direct flights to the U.S. Pertaining to this context, Vinod Kannan was quoted saying, “This means there is definitely an opportunity…to fly direct to the U.S., and it is an opportunity we are looking at.”
The airline, which resumed international flights last year, currently operates two Boeing Co widebody planes and has four more on order but Kannan added that the specifications and layout were not suited for direct flights to the United States. Whether Vistara would look at ordering new planes or leasing them is under discussion.
“In today’s situation, it is much easier to lease a widebody compared to one year ago. Those opportunities and scenarios are being worked on,” Kannan said.
Before the corona pandemic too over, Vistara flew to destinations like Bangkok and Singapore and had plans to start flying to Japan and Europe. Its international flights are now limited to destinations like London and Dubai with which India has a bilateral “air bubble” arrangement to operate direct flights. Vistara might start flights to Paris and Frankfurt under the same bilateral agreement, Kannan said.
By mid-2023, Vistara expects 20% to 30% of its total seat capacity to be deployed on international routes, up from less than 10% last year. There might be an expansion which would include 70 planes in its existing fleet. It’ll be a mix of Airbus’ narrow-body planes and Boeing widebodies- from 47 or 48 planes by the end of the current fiscal year.
While Vistara continues to negotiate with vendors on costs, it is reporting recovery in domestic business and leisure travel. “It has not been an easy year and it will affect my break-even point and push it back,” Kannan mentioned.