Indian domestic airline Vistara has revealed Singapore to be its first international destination. The carrier is to fly routes between Delhi, Mumbai and Singapore in late summer. The announcement of the carrier’s first visit to the international arena was announced today (11/07/19) and reported by Flight Global.
From August 6th this year, India’s sixth largest domestic airline will fly B737-800s from Delhi to Singapore on a daily basis. On the 7th the carrier will make its inaugural flight from Mumbai to Singapore.
The routes spell a turning point in the direction of Vistara. The carrier currently serves 24 destinations all within India. It operates 1,200 flights each week from its hub at Indira Gandhi International Airport.
“We’re excited to start with Singapore as our first international destination,” said Vistara’s boss Leslie Thng. “We see [Singapore] as a very important market, given the opportunities it presents for corporate, business as well as leisure travel.”
Mt Thng was the CEO of SilkAir: another Singapore Airlines subsidiary. He took over Vistara from Yeoh Phee Teik in October 2017.
Vistara’s Singapore choice does not come as a surprise. 49% of the airline venture is owned by Singapore flag carrier SIA (the other 51% is owned by Tata Sons).
But Vistara does also view Singapore as essential to its plans for growth. And with demand for routes between the two nations on the up, Singapore is a logical option.
The carrier had also hoped to fly between India and Sri Lanka but backed out following the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in Colombo. Vistara also retains route permissions for Thailand and the UAE, according to the Economic Times.
Room to breathe
The dismemberment of Jet Airways has given the Indian aviation industry a significant gap in the market. Increasing customer demand weighs heavily on the few domestic and foreign carriers still in operation. And the imbalance has led to severe hikes in airfares.
Kinjal Shah, vice president of Indian investment agency ICRA told Business Traveller,
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“The discontinuation of operations by Jet Airways has impacted 14 percent of the total industry capacity. Overall, the moderation in capacity starting February 2019 has resulted in increased airfares – ~30-40 percent increase over September 2018 to March 2019 – and more inconvenience to the passengers.”
However, the absence of Jet has also revealed the possibilities of re-birth. Cue: companies such as Vistara which have scrambled to fill the void caused by Jet’s grounding. And their doing so is slowing the rot.
Vistara will take Jet Airways’ place as the third operator on the two routes to Singapore. At present, the routes are dominated by Air India and Singapore Airlines. It will use its existing fleet of 23 single-aisle A320s bolstered by 6 B737s hand-me-downs from Jet Airways.
We suggested in May that Vistara may yet receive discounted B777s from Jet as well.
The Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines venture, consolidated in 2013, happens to serve India well in the present climate. The high-end full-service carrier has weathered the influx of foreign LCCs following the Indian government’s drive in 2012 to up foreign investment in the airline sector. And it now comes up trumps following the collapse of Jet, reaping the rewards of a domestic market short on carriers.
In 2017 the airline announced an 80% year-on-year growth in passengers flown in the first quarter of the year, with just a 44% growth in its fleet.
Vistara’s future looks bright. Especially with the investment from two giants of the industry. Tata’s very first venture into aviation was in 1930. “Tata Airlines” later became the Indian flag carrier Air India.