Vistara Is Preparing For Regular Short-Haul International Flights

Despite the challenges of the past 12 months, Indian carrier Vistara has been growing steadily under the circumstances. Now, with the vaccination drive against coronavirus having picked up the pace, the airline is hoping to solidify its international schedules. Specifically, it plans to restart regular short-haul international services within the next three to six months.

Vistara Boeing 787
Vistara cannot restart international operations immediately as it requires bilateral government approvals. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Flickr

Planned international restart

Vistara has begun preparation for the resumption of its short-haul international services. At present, SME Times reports that it can only operate special ‘air bubble’ flights to foreign destinations. These require passengers to fulfill several prerequisite conditions.

However, with vaccination efforts accelerating, the carrier hopes to return to regular scheduled short-haul international operations in the coming months. However, this resumption will not be immediate, as Vinod Kannan, its Chief Commercial Officer, explained to IANS. He stated, as per SME Times’ report:

It may take us at least three to six more months to resume short-haul international operations within the subcontinent based on bilateral government approvals, while long-haul air travel may take at least till the end of the year to resume.”

Vistara Airbus A320
Vistara operates both the ‘ceo’ (pictured) and ‘neo’ versions of the A320. The neo series is more popular at the airline, with 26 examples compared to nine ceos. Photo: Venkat Mangudi via Wikimedia Commons

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Where had Vistara flown abroad pre-COVID?

Despite commencing operations in January 2015, it took Vistara more than four years to fly beyond India’s borders. It eventually announced that Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) would be its first international destination in July 2019.

The service commenced the following month, using an ex-Jet Airways Boeing 737 aircraft. SME Times reports that, before the pandemic, Vistara’s regular scheduled short-haul international flights also served:

  • Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), Thailand.
  • Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB), Sri Lanka.
  • Dubai International Airport (DXB), UAE.
  • Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM), Nepal.
Vistara Boeing 787 Getty
Vistara has acquired two Boeing 787s to serve its growing long-haul network. Photo: Getty Images

Vistara currently serves five short-haul international destinations under special air bubble agreements. The majority of these are recent additions to its network, and the list consists of:

Long-haul ambitions

Vistara is also looking to establish itself as a competitive long-haul carrier with routes to Europe and North America. It first announced last July that it would be commencing services to Frankfurt, London, and Paris as part of this expansion. The London services commenced in August from Delhi, and the airline has since looked to add a second route from Mumbai.

Vistara operates its long-haul services using two Boeing 787-9 ‘Dreamliner’ aircraft, which it received in February and August last year. The airline is a full service carrier, and its Dreamliners sport an attractive three-class cabin. According to Planespotters.net, this consists of 30 business class flatbeds, 21 premium economy recliners, and 248 standard economy seats.

What do you make of Vistara’s international intentions? Can you see the airline becoming part of your travel plans in the coming months and years? Let us know your thoughts and predictions in the comments!

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