DALLAS — Amidst the Air India revolution, Vistara (UK) takes on a pinch in losing its brand identity but potentially for the greater good.
Under the Maharajah, with a unified fleet, management, and operations, the consolidated airline would be India’s one and only full-service carrier. While on the other hand, Air Asia India (I5) will be paired up with Air India Express (IX) will form the low-cost front for the group.
I engaged in a brief exchange with Vistara’s CEO, Vinod Kannan, who shed some light on the merger, and the encircling elements of the airline’s fleet, product offering, and employees.
SG: Can you please comment on the merger with Air India? Do you personally prefer that Vistara continued as an independent carrier or are you in favor of the merger?
VK: Vistara’s journey through the last eight years has been nothing short of rewarding. The brand has carved a niche for itself, setting new benchmarks in the Indian aviation industry and earning immense goodwill from millions of customers from around the world.
Now, as we embark on this new phase of our growth journey, we look forward to the merger with Air India, a legendary brand with a rich history and the pioneer of civil aviation in the country.
We are also excited that we will continue to be guided by our parent brands – Singapore Airlines and Tata group. We strongly believe that there is enormous potential for an airline group with the scale and network of the combined entity.
We look forward to offering great opportunities for our customers, employees, and partners, as we bring Indian aviation under the spotlight on a global stage.
Having said that, the integration process will take time; and until it is completed, it is business as usual for all stakeholders including customers, as we continue to operate as an independent airline and focus on our organic growth.
Finally, the three 787s allow an increase in frequency to Frankfurt and Paris, How’s that fairing? The third Boeing 787 is leased, and how long do you plan to use it?
With the third Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner joining our fleet last year, we doubled our frequency from 3x to 6x weekly on the Delhi-Frankfurt route and from 2x to
5x weekly on the Delhi-Paris route.
This has been very well received by our customers and we have been witnessing consistent growth in passenger traffic on these routes as well as across our international network. This is quite encouraging, and we are hopeful that the momentum continues.
Our third Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner has been taken on lease for a period of three years.
What’s next with the four more Dreamliner to come in 2023? Where do US plans stand?
The remaining four Dreamliner aircraft on our order book are likely to arrive through the course of the next 12-18 months in an interspersed manner; however, we await clarity from Boeing on the exact delivery schedule.
Our plans to start operations in the US have currently taken a backseat primarily due to delayed deliveries of the wide-body aircraft and given that the impending delivery schedule would also be sporadic.
Nonetheless, we will be utilizing the upcoming Dreamliner aircraft to further densify our presence in Europe and connect our long-haul destinations with other parts of India.
As the first Indian carrier to introduce a premium economy, perhaps one of your best bets, how have load factors in this cabin performed year on year?
Having pioneered premium economy class in India, Vistara is the first Indian airline to offer a three-class configuration – Business Class, Premium Economy, and Economy Class.
As the perfect union of luxury and affordability, the choice of premium economy has been highly appreciated by our customers across segments and several markets across the globe and is comparable with those of many major, global carriers.
Our Premium Economy cabin provides an exclusive experience with various distinctive features, ensuring that customers arrive at their destination relaxed and rejuvenated.
There has been a rising preference for Premium Economy, especially after the pandemic as customers increasingly opt for more convenience, exclusivity, and space when traveling.
The three-class cabin configuration has been one of our strongest differentiators since the beginning and we have every intention of offering it on as many routes as possible.
Featured image: Daniel Gorun/Airways