Tata-SIA's 'Vistara' set for October take-off

Tata-SIA's 'Vistara' set for October take-off

The Tata-Singapore Airlines combine on Monday christened its joint venture airline “Vistara” with the hope of taking to the skies in October this year after the delivery of its first aircraft next month.

The joint venture, which received the Civil Aviation Ministry’s No Objection Certificate (NOC) on April 3 this year, is now awaiting the Air Operators Permit (AOP) from the regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). That will be the final hurdle before it takes off.  By this year-end, Vistara expects to have five aircraft in its fleet and a total of 20 by 2019.

“We are in the last lap of the process of securing the AOP. There are a series of approvals which we have to get to the satisfaction of the DGCA,” Phee Teik Yeoh, CEO of “Vistara”, told reporters at the launch of the brand name, logo and livery of the airline.

The route plan is being finalised in a way that cities having a clear demand for a full-service airline are covered, he said. Asked about the pricing strategy, he did not divulge the details but said that their aim at present is to get the new airline “quickly off the ground”.

“We aim to deliver a seamless experience via personalisation of services for guests. Our core belief is that we will be intuitively thoughtful about our guests’ needs,” he said, adding that a full-service is not just about serving food onboard.

Tata Sons, the majority partner, has a 51 per cent stake in the joint venture, while Singapore Airlines holds the rest. The total investment by the joint venture will be $100 million. The Tatas also have a 30 per cent stake in AirAsia India, a low-cost carrier.

Prasad Menon, chairman of Tata SIA Airlines Ltd (TSAL), said with the government allowing 49 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), there was a chance and “we grabbed it with both hands”. “Tata-SIA will help boost the image of the country as a tourist and investment destination,” he said.

Swee Wah Mak, director in TSAL and executive vice-president of Singapore Airlines, said they are “very bullish and very excited” to collaborate with the Tatas. He said Indian aviation has a lot of potential for growth.

Mukund Rajan, another TSAL director, said Tatas believe that this is the right time to bring new options to fliers. “We are excited about the potential the new venture gives and are looking forward to future expansion of the market,” he said.

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