Spreading wings: Vistara to start flights to Phuket, Colombo

By: | Published: August 29, 2018 6:02 AM

Full-service carrier Vistara, a joint venture between Singapore Airlines and the Tata Group, is set to fly on international routes from October. Sources told FE that the airline’s international flights will be from New Delhi to Colombo in Sri Lanka and Phuket, an island off Thailand’s west coast.

According to travel trade experts, launching overseas flights in October makes sense for the airline as it is a good period for travel given that it is the festival period and is a small vacation time. (Reuters)

Full-service carrier Vistara, a joint venture between Singapore Airlines and the Tata Group, is set to fly on international routes from October. Sources told FE that the airline’s international flights will be from New Delhi to Colombo in Sri Lanka and Phuket, an island off Thailand’s west coast.

Under the new policy, an airline needs to have 20 aircraft for domestic operations to be eligible to fly overseas. Vistara, which began operations in January 2015, got its 20th aircraft in April and now has a 22-aircraft fleet so it can begin services to two overseas destinations.

Sources said Vistara wanted to fly to Dubai but the quota under the India-Dubai bilateral is full. The quota can be hiked under a new policy, but since Indian carriers are negotiating for better slots at Dubai airport the entire matter is stuck.

According to travel trade experts, launching overseas flights in October makes sense for the airline as it is a good period for travel given that it is the festival period and is a small vacation time.

At present, Air India, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and Thai Airways fly between Delhi and Bangkok, while on the Delhi-Colombo route Air India and Sri Lankan Airlines operate.

Balu Ramachandran, head, air and distribution at online travel company Cleartrip, said, “Vistara is well positioned now to launch its international operations as it has been able to establish itself as an aspirational product along with good value proposition.”

In terms of destination choices by Vistara to launch international flights, Ramachandran says that both Phuket and Colombo are leisure destinations fitting the profile that Vistara wants to attract for aspirational millennial.

Both Phuket and Sri Lanka have been attracting tourists in recent times.

Vistara CEO Leslie Thng in an earlier interaction with FE had said that the airline has ambitions to be a true global carrier and will be leveraging its partnership both in terms of network and other synergies with the SIA Group when it goes global.

Asked about its international plans, a Vistara spokesperson said, “We are in the process of seeking necessary approvals from various authorities and finalising our international operations plans. More details will be shared at an appropriate time.”

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