Vistara to run cost-effective model to stay afloat in market

By: | Published: January 11, 2015 1:04 AM

The newest full service carrier Vistara, which took to the Indian skies on Friday, will run a very cost-effective model...

The newest full service carrier Vistara, which took to the Indian skies on Friday, will run a very cost-effective model to remain competitive in the aviation market where it faces challenges from competition like Air India and Jet Airways.

The key factor for us will be to keep our costs low, Vistara’s chief executive officer Phee Teik Yeoh told FE on Friday. “For starters, unlike our full-service counterparts (Air India and Jet Airways), we don’t have huge debt. And if we can manage our costs, we would do well,” Yeoh said.

Vistara, which currently has 400 staff in its rolls, including about 140 cabin crew staff, plans to follow a lean hiring model. “We have a very lean model when it comes to manpower and our employees and executives are encouraged to multitask. For instance, I haven’t hired a personal assistant, and taking care of all the chief executive office’s work by myself,” Yeoh added.

The passengers at the airline are currently being served by five cabin crew members, with four airhostesses and a trainee, will soon fly with only four cabin crew members, an airhostess with the airline said.

Vistara’s competition full service carriers fly five to eight cabin crew members depending on the configuration of the aircraft. Vistara, which currently flies two Airbus 320 aircraft on the Delhi-Ahmedabad-Mumbai routes, will induct the third aircraft of the same configuration in its fleet in the coming days.

However, the airline will add the next route only after February 16. “We expect to add new routes after February 16 since the visibility (fog) will become clearer by then,” said Gaim Ming Toh, Vistara’s chief commercial officer. Toh, however, refused to reveal the new destinations that the airline plans to connect in the near future.

“The route guidelines require us to connect smaller towns and cities along with major cities. But, we will be looking at the usual destinations (that are currently being served by other airlines),” Toh added.

Vistara, where Tata Sons holds 51% stake and Singapore Airlines hold 49% stake, finally took off on Friday after over two decades of struggle by both partners to operate a domestic airline in the country.

The airline, which is offering a three seat configuration —economy, premium economy, and business class —hopes to attract passengers with its unique offerings.

The airline’s premium economy segment, the first of its kind in the country, offers ample of leg space, apart from an upgraded food menu (from the one offered to the economy class passengers). Its plush interiors are relaxing to the eye with dull and bright shades matching in juxtapose to give the fliers a homely atmosphere. The vibrant food menu, which changes every week, is also expected to hit a chord with passengers.

The airline will also be hoping that its cabin crew’s emphasis to make all passengers comfortable, irrespective of seat configuration, with every passenger being enquired by individually – a common practice among international airliner – will make the carrier more attractive to passengers than its full service peers. “Our main objective is to serve the needs of the passenger and serve them well,” chief executive Yeoh said.

“We understand that the topline and bottomline is important for any airline but since we have just started, our emphasis is to make passengers happy.”

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