Vistara has officially received the all-clear from the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct flights between the US and India. The DOT received no objections since grating tentative approval, which now means Vistara is all set to operate US flights as it sees fit.
Vistara receives final approval
On August 25th, Vistara received final approval from the DOT for a foreign air carrier permit. This allows the airline to conduct scheduled commercial flights between the US and India, carrying people, property, and mail. The DOT also allows the airline to fly cargo and charter flights between the US and India.
As long as Vistara complies with regulations put forward by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and DOT, it will retain its ability to provide international transportation services between the US and India. This includes meeting safety and security guidelines and complying with DOT regulations relating to passenger services and refunds, among others.
Edging closer to US flights
In early June, the DOT granted tentative approval for the airline to operate flights between the US and India. Vistara first applied for DOT permission to run US flights at the end of April.
Vistara had previously planned to start flights in September 2021. Given that this is only a few days away, it is unlikely that Vistara will be launching flights at this time.
Furthermore, the US still maintains an ongoing travel ban for foreign nationals coming from India. While there are exceptions for US citizens and their families, legal permanent residents, and students. Nevertheless, this is certainly not the best environment for Vistara to launch long-haul flying.
Furthermore, most nonessential travel to India is also barred. While there are some exemptions, entering India as a non-citizen is certainly not very easy at this point.
As a result, it makes a lot of sense for Vistara to hold off on adding US flights at this time. Some exceptions could be if Vistara gets lucrative access at some heavily competitive airports, where getting in now is key to building up a long-term position.
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Where could Vistara fly?
The carrier wants to use its Boeing 787-9 aircraft to fly to the United States. With the range on these aircraft, out of the airline’s hubs in Mumbai or Delhi, the aircraft can reach points across the United States, including San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Boston, and Washington D.C.
Another option could be to fly further into the United States with a stop. If granted fifth-freedom route access, the airline could launch operations to points like Dallas, Houston, Miami, and more with a stop in Europe or Canada.
However, there is no dearth of one-stop options between the US and India. Passengers can fly from a city such as Houston to India with a stop in the US, Europe, Canada, or the Middle East. Vistara would face heavy competition and might not reap financial rewards with such a routing.
The other potential option for Vistara includes a partnership with United. The two airlines currently have a codeshare relationship that gives United additional connectivity within India. The two carriers may benefit from expanding their partnership to include more of United’s network when Vistara starts flights to the US, which could be something Vistara needs to start flights in a very competitive market.
Are you looking forward to Vistara launching flights to the United States? Let us know in the comments!