Indian Carrier Vistara Seeks US Flight Permissions

Vistara has filed with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) seeking a foreign air carrier permit to run flights to the United States. The US and India, which have an Open Skies agreement, have heavy traffic between the two countries. Vistara is seeking expedited processing to start the services as soon as possible.

Vistara Boeing 787
Vistara wants to use its Boeing 787 aircraft to fly between the US and India. Photo: Getty Images

Vistara wants to fly to the US

Indian full-service carrier Vistara has applied with the DOT to operate flights to the US as soon as possible. The carrier is targeting a September 1st, 2021, launch date using Boeing 787 jets. As of April 13th, the airline had two Boeing 787-9s in its fleet, seating 299 passengers.

Vistara will take more Boeing 787 Dreamliners to fuel international long-haul expansion, so it will certainly have the planes to run flights to the United States.

Vistara Boeing 787
The airline currently has two 787-9s, with plans to take more jets this year. Photo: Getty Images

The airline did not specifically highlight where it wants to fly to in the US, but there are plenty of options for the airline. Using a 787-9, it can easily serve most points in the US from its hub in Delhi.

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Current flights between the US and India

There is heavy traffic between the US and India, with a large Indian diaspora in the US and extensive business and leisure ties between the two countries. Currently, the only airlines flying nonstop between the US and India are Air India and United Airlines.

United services Delhi (DEL) and Mumbai (BOM) in India. From Delhi, it flies to San Francisco (SFO), Newark (EWR), and Chicago (ORD). From Mumbai, United only flies to Newark. In the future, the airline will launch a connection between San Francisco and Bangalore (BLR).

United Boeing 777
United flies heavily between the US and India. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Air India operates a much more diverse set of routes. From Delhi, Air India flies to Chicago (ORD), San Francisco (SFO), New York (JFK), and Washington D.C. (IAD). Mumbai has nonstop flights to Newark (EWR) on Air India. Bangalore sees flights to San Francisco (SFO), while Hyderabad (HYD) receives nonstop service to Chicago (ORD). Not all of the routes are operating daily.

Air India Boeing 777-300ER
Air India flies a diverse array of flights between the US and India. Photo: Getty Images

Delta used to fly nonstop between New York (JFK) and Mumbai. However, it ended those flights after retiring the only aircraft in its fleet that could fly the route. It has not released plans to return to India.

Lastly, American Airlines is expecting to enter the US to India market later this year. It plans to fly new nonstop service from Seattle (SEA) to Bangalore using a Boeing 787-9 and from New York (JFK) to Delhi using a Boeing 777-200ER.

American Airlines
American Airlines is also planning to enter the market. Photo: Getty Images

Plenty of opportunities for Vistara

Vistara has a relationship with United Airlines, and that leaves plenty of options. It also advertises an interlining partnership with Delta Air Lines, which could be expanded into a codeshare.

From Delhi, Vistara could target flights to New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington D.C., or Seattle as some first-tier cities. Chicago and New York will be heavily competitive routes, while D.C. only has one nonstop competitor. Meanwhile, there are no nonstop flights from Boston or Seattle to any points in India currently.

Mumbai sees relatively few nonstop flights to the United States, and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner could target points on the East Coast and potentially parts of the West Coast and Upper Midwest.

Vistara 787
Vistara sees an opportunity to use its upcoming Boeing 787s to run flights to the US. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

While there is plenty of origin and destination nonstop demand on these points, the more connections Vistara offers, the better a chance it has to keep its planes full. Delhi is a larger hub for Vistara than Mumbai, so it would make more sense to run flights to the US out of Delhi.

Vistara has reportedly been seeking a 787 crew rest for longer flights to the US. This would be a must to run flights to the US.

Getting a crew rest on a Boeing 787 is not new. Typically located at the front and rear of the jets, this provides a place for the crew to rest while off duty. Until those aircraft are delivered, it likely won’t fly to the US, which is perhaps one reason why it seeks a September 1st start date.

In addition, travel from the US to India is restricted, and Vistara is likely hoping that there will be greater freedom of movement between the two countries by September.

Where do you want Vistara to fly to in the United States? Will you fly Vistara between the US and India? Let us know in the comments!