Full-service Indian carrier Vistara is seriously considering leasing slots at London Heathrow Airport (LHR) and is involved in talks with several airlines. This new long haul route for the Gurgaon based airline is being talked about by airline insiders, according to Indian CNBC TV18.
While reporting the story, reliable aviation website CH-Aviation quotes an unnamed source as saying:
“However, since slots at such a busy airport are a scarce commodity, we are talking to several carriers to take slots on lease. Simultaneously, we are also looking at London Stansted but we are trying to get Heathrow.”
Vistara is owned by Tata Sons and the Singapore Airlines Group
Operating out of Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) in New Delhi, Vistara is a joint venture between Indian multinational conglomerate Tata Sons and the Singapore Airlines Group.
The reason possible long haul flights are on the agenda now is that Vistara is due to take delivery of its first four Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners in 2020.
— unrave (@unraveaero) October 9, 2019
The first two planes of the order with Boeing are penciled in for delivery sometime between February and March. These represent the beginning of Vistara’s firm order of six aircraft from the Seattle planemaker.
Vistara is looking to grow internationally
CH-Aviation also says that, on top of the Boeing order, Vistara may look to lease other long haul capable jets from lessors.
As well as flights to the capital of the United Kingdom, Vistara is eying up other European capitals, together with flights to North America, Australia, and Japan.
Should Vistara decide to start flying to London from India, it will face competition from Air India, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and TUI Airways. Air India flies to London Heathrow from Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
British Airways flies to Heathrow from the Indian cities of Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. Virgin Atlantic flies to London from Delhi and Mumbai.
All of the above flights from India fly to London Heathrow, with the exception of Air India’s flight from Amritsar which lands at London Stansted Airport (STN).
Air India is also planning to fly from Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM) in Mumbai to Stansted Airport three times per week starting in February 2020.
While not having any regularly scheduled flights between London and India, TUI Airways operate charter flights between London Gatwick Airport (LGW) and Dabolim Airport (GOI) in Goa.
Only 5% of Vistara’s capacity serves international destinations
Vistara’s plans to expand internationally were always to be expected, given the airline’s powerful owners. But it may have to take baby steps in the beginning, rather than just diving in.
Currently, Vistara is predominantly a domestic Indian airline with only 5% of its capacity serving international destinations outside of India.
The routes Vistara currently flies overseas are to Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) in Bangkok, Singapore Changi Airport (SIN), Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) in Columbo, Sri Lanka.
Despite having so few international destinations, Vistara plans to focus its future growth in the international marketplace and hopes that by 2023 it will have a roughly 50/50 split between domestic and international flights.
Currently, before the arrival of the Dreamliners, Vistara’s fleet is made up of 13 Airbus A320-200s, 19 Airbus A320-200neos, and nine Boeing 737-800s.
Vistara has also ordered a further 50 Airbus A320neos of which 13 will come directly from Toulouse and 37 from lessors.