With increased demand for non-stop travel, Vistara is keen to start direct flights to the United States. Vistara is among the long list of airlines looking at cashing on long haul flights and new routes hoping for a rebound in air travel post-COVID pandemic. Its positioning itself well to take advantage of both long-haul direct flights and shorter connecting routes.
Vinod Kannan, chief commercial officer, told Reuters that the company is studying various scenarios for direct flights. He revealed that Vistara has seen a rise in demand for non-stop flights, as passengers try to avoid stopovers to reduce the risk of getting infected. Kannan said Air India is the only Indian airline currently offering direct flights to the United States. “This means there is definitely an opportunity to fly direct to the US, and it is an opportunity we are looking at,” he explained.
Vistara, which is an Indian full-service airline owned by Tata Group and Singapore Airlines, had earlier this year announced it would take advantage of the travel bubble between the UK and India. It is in talks to start flights to Paris and Frankfurt under the same bilateral agreement. As per various reports, the airline also increased its Delhi to London service from four times per week to a daily service. Additionally, it had launched a route to Doha in the Middle East. And it expects up to 30 per cent of its capacity to be international routes by 2023.
However, Kannan pointed out that Vistara currently operates two Boeing Co widebody planes and has four more on order, and as such, the specifications and layout were not suited for direct flights to the US. “In today’s situation, it is much easier to lease a widebody compared to one year ago,” the senior executive said. “Those opportunities and scenarios are being worked on.” Moreover, the airline expects to expand its fleet to 70 planes, a mix of Airbus’ narrow body planes and Boeing widebodies from 47 or 48 planes by the end of the current fiscal year.