Vistara has taken delivery of its first owned Airbus A320neo this week. The aircraft, registered VT-TQE, arrived in Delhi from Toulouse on Saturday morning, increasing the fleet size to 46. The latest addition takes Vistara’s owned fleet to three aircraft.
Similar to many Indian carriers, a vast majority of Vistara’s fleet is leased rather than owned outright. This helps keep capital costs low and offers the chance to quickly grow the fleet size. However, nearly every airline has at least a handful of aircraft it owns.
On Saturday, Vistara took delivery of its first-ever owned Airbus A320neo. VT-TQE features CFM LEAP-1A engines and is a part of the carrier’s order for 50 Airbus jets. The aircraft flew from Toulouse, France, on Friday afternoon and arrived in New Delhi at 04:00 AM local time, making the journey without a stop.
Vistara plans to take on 13 owned Airbus A320neo family aircraft, which includes some A321neos as well. The remaining 37 aircraft in the order have been leased from several firms around the world.
According to ch-aviation, the three aircraft currently owned by Vistara include one Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, one 737-800, and the newest A320neo. So which lessors have been supplying Vistara its remaining aircraft?
Vistara’s biggest lessor is BOC Aviation, which has leased the carrier 14 aircraft, 11 A320neos and three 737s. In second place is GECAS, which currently leases out eight A320neos and previously had given 737s as well. Right behind the pair is Avolon, which rents out another seven A320s.
The carrier’s A321neos, and one A320neo, both come from Air Lease Corporation. In addition to these four, Vistara takes aircraft from six other lessors, including Oaktree Capital and Global Knafaim Leasing, ensuring a diversified base of suppliers for the future.
Buying or leasing?
Airlines worldwide face the dilemma of purchasing their aircraft outright or making monthly payments to a lessor instead. However, startup and budget airlines almost exclusively sign lucrative lease agreements to rapidly grow their fleet and keep the average age low.
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Indian carriers like IndiGo and SpiceJet have both acquired scores of planes almost solely through leasing. This has kept costs down and operations growing, both critical factors for the challenging market. Vistara seems to have taken a similar path, opting to keep its fleet young and capital expenditure low.
However, buying an aircraft is important for airlines as well. Not only does this increase the carrier’s assets and fixed capital, but it can also be used as collateral for loans during difficult times. Moreover, purchasing makes sense when airlines plan to use a plane for decades to come, making it cheaper than a monthly lease.
Overall, Vistara is strategically building its fleet to keep expenses low while keeping a surplus of assets for the future.