Tata Sons-Singapore Airlines JV 'Vistara' set for Oct launch

Tata Sons-Singapore Airlines JV 'Vistara' set for Oct launch

The Tata Sons-Singapore Airlines joint venture today unveiled the brand name of its new airline 'Vistara', and said it is expected to launch operations by October with the first aircraft coming in by September.

"We are in the last lap of the process of securing the Air Operator Permit (AOP of flying licence). There are a series of approvals which we have to get to the satisfaction of DGCA," said Phee Teik Yeoh, the CEO of the start-up full-service airline 'Vistara'.

To questions, he said that "we expect to get the first aircraft some time in September and by this calendar year, we would have five aircraft in our fleet".
The Delhi-based airline has already decided to lease 20 Airbus A-320s, including seven A-320 Neo series planes which have the latest technology on board. The airline plans to have a 20-aircraft fleet in five years.

Yeoh was speaking at a ceremony to launch the new brand name, the logo and livery of the airline, along with Tata-SIA Airlines Chairman Prasad Menon and Board Directors Mukund Rajan and Swee Wah Mak.

Asked about the route network of the new airline, the CEO said "we are close to finalising our route network. It will cover cities having a clear demand for full-service airline", but declined to share details.

Earlier, sources had said the plan was to begin services in five cities and go up to 11 within a year of launch with 87 weekly flights. These would link Delhi with Mumbai, Bangalore, Goa, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Jammu, Srinagar, Patna and Chandigarh.
Yeoh also parried several questions on the pricing strategy of the new carrier, saying the thrust now was to get the new airline "quickly off the ground".

On the full-service model, he said "full-service is not just serving food in-flight, but there will be a clear strategy based on customer experience and expectations."
The company is a 51:49 joint venture between Tata Sons and SIA, with Singapore Airlines planning to invest USD 49 million and the Tatas providing the rest of the total USD 100 million investment.

Menon exuded confidence that Tata-SIA would become "a significant player" in the Indian aviation market by "redefining the way we travel in India. I can confidently say that Tata's and SIA's legendary hospitality standards and service excellence will make 'Vistara' a natural choice for passengers".

Asked about the firm's views on the rule which allows only those Indian carriers to fly abroad which have operated in domestic sector for five years and has at least a 20-aircraft fleet, Menon said "we believe it's not good for the country" as any foreign airline with one aircraft can fly into and out of India.

"Policy changes always bring forward movement," he said. CEO Yeoh said that "we look forward to the repeal of the rule", popularly called 5/20 rule, and added the BJP-led government has so far taken "positive steps" like more focus on expanding connectivity, infrastructure and airports, to ensure that the aviation sector achieves its full potential.

Both Yeoh and Menon spoke of a survey carried out by Tata-SIA, which they said, showed that Indian air travellers were "made to feel a cog in the wheel or just a seat number" and claimed that 'Vistara' airline would "change this by offering personalised services".
Asked whether they would be interested in investing in airports or other aviation infrastructure, Menon said, "We have looked at how the entire (aviation) policy has unfolded... There is going to be considerable expansion and we will play a significant role in it."
On Tata's investment in the new no-frill carrier AirAsia India, he said "we don't see them significantly competing with each other. The (Indian aviation) market is large for everyone to operate and we don't see any significant overlap."

Explaining the new brand name 'Vistara', Yeoh said it implies 'limitless expanse', like the sky, with the logo derived from a 'yantra', an ancient Indian mathematical form reflecting the "unbounded universe."

At the function, crew members, their uniforms, and aircraft livery were also showcased.

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