How Vistara Could Become A Dominant Carrier In India


After the demise of Jet Airways, low-cost carriers such as SpiceJet have capitalized on the situation and sought a rapid expansion plan. However, there’s one full-service carrier that could soon become a dominant carrier in India. Though small as of now, Vistara could soon become a force to be reckoned with.

Vistara could soon be a dominant airline in India. Photo: Wikimedia

Full-service mishaps

India was recently dominated by two major full-service carriers. Air India and Jet Airways were always in competition with each other and neither had turned a profit in quite some time. While Air India continued to receive government support, Jet Airways ceased operations.

As we’ve previously reported, there have been several reasons why full-service airlines in India aren’t making money. Jet Airways placed large orders amid a rapid expansion plan that saw it slide further and further into debt. Meanwhile, a little-known startup has the potential to rattle the market and become India’s premium airline. That airline is none other than Vistara.


What is Vistara?

Vistara has a very short history. It started out as a joint venture with the Tata Sons group and Singapore Airlines. The idea was to create an airline that catered to premium, high-end travelers who would have zero interest in flying a low-cost carrier. Tata Sons took a 51% stake in the airline while Singapore Airlines owned 49%. This was in order to comply with Indian ownership requirements. Vistara had the proper backing and vision to become a reality. And, in 2015, Vistara flew for the first time.

Vistara is an airline designed to cater to high-end, premium travelers. Photo: Vistara

Vistara’s fleet

Unlike Air India, Jet Airways, SpiceJet, or Indigo, Vistara has a relatively small fleet. Vistara began with A320 aircraft and now operate just over 20 aircraft. Some of these are A320ceo family while others are new A320neo family aircraft. These aircraft are perfect for Vistara’s operations.

Vistara operates a fleet of A320ceo and A320neo aircraft. Photo:Vistara

The A320 is a versatile workhorse that serves short and medium-haul routes well. Vistara can base these aircraft out of Delhi or Mumbai and fly between the two cities, to secondary cities like Bangalore or Kolkata, and even some farther destinations such as Singapore, Bangkok, and Dubai. With Jet Airways out of the market, Vistara can put their 50+ order for A320neo family aircraft to good use. Some may be used to replace A320ceo aircraft while others would be perfect for building a connecting hub.


The 787-9

Vistara also has six Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners on order. These aircraft will primarily be used for long-haul routes. Until IndiGo starts flying to London, travelers looking to fly an Indian airline will only have Air India as a choice.

The first 787-9 is expected to arrive in 2020, after the delivery of some A320neos. With this approach, Vistara is looking to grow slowly but surely. It seems they seek principled growth with a cautious mindset. Six 787-9s are a small number, however, Vistara definitely can use these aircraft on high-demand, long-haul routes. Furthermore, with Jet Airways out of the picture, Vistara could take on some more 787s and fill in the international gap left by Jet’s demise.

Vistara selected the 787-9 for long-haul operations. Photo: Boeing

What does Vistara need to do right?

Vistara has not been wildly successful and has recorded a few losses. However, with the demise of a major competitor and the inauguration of additional routes, it will be interesting to see how Vistara’s books turn out. With experience from Singapore Airlines and some muscle from Tata Sons, Vistara has the right team in place to dominate the market.


Vistara will definitely need to focus on filling in premium, high-end gaps. One place Vistara can stand out is by offering a stellar long-haul premium product. In comparison to some of Air India’s lackluster products, this could give Vistara a major leg-up and provide them the reputation boost they need.

Vistara is pursuing expansion with a level of caution. This will help them keep from racking up huge losses. But it would be unfortunate to see Vistara avoid taking some risks by opening a few new routes. Vistara will have to weigh their expansion with their books. As we all know, with no risk there comes little or no reward.

It will be interesting to see how Vistara grows in the absence of Jet Airways. By building a robust route network with a solid offering, Vistara could become a major force to reckon with. India’s aviation market continues to grow so Vistara will have no dearth of passengers to appeal to.

Do you think Vistara will become a major force? Let us know in the comments below!


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shahid ahmad

Yes Vistara can become a dominant force. It has the right product, right service level and dedication. Mr. Ratan Tata wanted an airline of his own since 1993 when I first met him on this subject and started operations only in 2015 after 22 years! Vistara need to fill in the premium slots vacated by Jet Airways very fast. Get A 320s or even better some A 330 Neos quickly. Lessors like GPA PTLA etc. would have them. Airlines globally would give away 5 or 6. Fill up the trunk slots. DEL to BOM, BLR, HYD, MAA and CCU even GOI. 8 in the morning departures need to be on A330 because the Mumbai airport is up full. And 8 PM return flights too need A 330. Jet Airways was doing this. And start a daily service to London and Birmingham. Vistara needs to get into a Codeshare agreement with BA or an American career like Delta AA or United who operate out of LHR and Gatwick. Also Put the A 330s on DEL-DXB and BOM-DXB and Del / BOM – Singapore routes. Vistara’s side stick flyer pilots can be trained on A 330s faster. When the 787-9 arrives it will be different routes. DEL/BOM direct to Amsterdam Frankfurt Paris Milan / Rome and to more European destinations and some SE Asia routes.
A 320 services to Abu Dhabi must commence fast with interline agreement with Etihad or start Doha with agreements with Qatar Airways. Indigo’s deal with Turkish airlines is an uncomfortable one. An all economy 28 inch pitch 8 hr flight to Istanbul is not many’s cup of tea.
The smartest player is Spicejet. Ajay Singh knows what he is doing and is playing his cards right. It is Vistara not him who should have approached EK first for an interline and codeshare agreement. Vistara needs to land 2 X A 330s or even 321 Neos at 5,30 AM in Dubai from DEL/ BOM and BLR to put passengers on those 40 odd 8 AM departures of A 380s.
Spicejet is ahead of Indigo and a conservative Go Air in introducing hot meals for a payment. And SPicemax. Go Air must discontinue GO Business and get to s Spicemax Hot Meal + Seat program. Indigo too needs to integrate this. Earning Rs. 200 per seat revenue on a hot meal priced at Rs. 350 is a huge profit. It can be achieved with the same 4 cabin Crew. Hot breakfast and Dinner will always be purchased.
There are good profits to be made on flights from Delhi to IXR IXD and PAT. Vistara must commence a morning / evening set of flights on the DEL-PAT route. 6E and G8 fly 6 pairs of flights daily. Spice Jet just 2 Daily. Additional DEL-PNQ service, DEL-MAA service, DEL-CCU service, BOM-IXM flights, Delhi – Cochin flights, DEL-VGA direct, DEL-Tirupati direct, BOM – Tirupati. DEL & BOM to IXA and Sub continental routes to DEL – Kathmandu DEL – Dhaka are the new potentials. As for DEL-BOM – DEL Vistara and Spicejet can put another 8 each and the planes will be full!