Looking At Vistara’s Growth With The Boeing 787

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Summary

  • Vistara received its final Boeing 787, marking the completion of the development of its long-haul fleet.
  • Vistara recently inaugurated the Mumbai-Paris route with five weekly flights, enhancing its Europe network.
  • The anticipated merger with Air India should be completed by mid-2025.

With its fleet of Boeing 787-9s, Vistara has been able to launch flights to London, Paris, and Frankfurt. Earlier this week, the airline received its final example, completing the development of its long-haul fleet. Also this week, Vistara inaugurated services between Mumbai and Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG), a testament to the airline’s rapid growth strategy.

Yet things are tricky for Vistara: the airline has struggled financially since its inception and has never achieved net profitability for a single fiscal year. While it was able to report its first net profit during the quarter ending December 2022, this did not extend much further. The airline’s financial challenge is a testament to the country’s saturated and competitive aviation industry, dominated (primarily on the domestic front) by low-cost carriers such as IndiGo.

By looking further afield to destinations in Europe with its widebody fleet, the Singapore Airlines-TATA Sons joint venture can search for profitability elsewhere.

The final Boeing 787

As Simple Flying reported earlier this week, Vistara took delivery of its final Boeing 787 aircraft on Friday, registered VT-TSN. This brings Vistara’s total Boeing 787-9 fleet to seven, complementing 53 Airbus A320neos and 10 Airbus A321s. The Airbus jets are primarily used for the airline’s extensive domestic operation. They are also deployed on select international flights to destinations in the Middle East and elsewhere on the Indian subcontinent.

The airline had placed an order for 56 aircraft back in 2018 for both Boeing and Airbus jets, comprising 50 Airbus A320neo family aircraft and six Boeing 787-9s. The airline also later leased an additional Dreamliner from AerCap registered VT-TSQ. The plane was not factory-new, unlike the others. TSQ was with Bamboo Airways before it entered into service with Vistara. The addition of this leased jet meant the carrier’s total 787 fleet stands at seven planes.

Remarking on the delivery of its final Dreamliner this week, Vistara said the following in a statement:

“We recently took delivery of our last Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and that’s also the 70th aircraft in our fleet. This marks the culmination of the order that we had placed in 2018 for 56 aircraft across Airbus and Boeing.”

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Vistara expands in Paris

On March 28, Vistara launched its new Mumbai to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) route, operating five times a week. Inevitably, the service is operated by its Boeing 787-9s as UK023 on the outbound journey and UK024 on the way back to Mumbai. The aircraft leaves India at 13:20, arriving in Paris at 19:30. The return service departs two hours later at 21:30, landing in Mumbai at 09:50 the following day.

Vistara Boeing 787-9 rendering.

Photo: Vistara

Earlier this week, Vistara’s CEO Vinod Kannan said:

“We are delighted to commence direct connectivity between Mumbai and Paris. This new route, in addition to our non-stop flights connecting Delhi and Paris, reflects the increasing preference of our customers to fly Vistara for seamless travel between India and France. This strategic expansion also enables us to aid the growing traffic between the two countries given the burgeoning cooperation across sectors including trade, investment, science, technology, and academia. We are confident that customers will appreciate the choice of flying India’s best airline on this additional route, that further solidifies our presence in Europe.”

Vistara has been operating flights between Delhi and Paris CDG since November 2021, five times a week. Flight times are similar to the services from Mumbai, leaving India at 14:05 and landing in France at 20:10. The route operates on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The recent Mumbai to Paris flight brings the airline’s number of routes between India and Europe to six.

A strong Europe-bound network

Vistara operates to three European destinations from both hubs in Delhi and Mumbai. This includes flights from Delhi and Mumbai to London Heathrow (LHR), Frankfurt, and now Paris. Each of these destinations are important both symbolically for Vistara but also financially.

Vistara Boeing 787 landing at Tokyo.

A saturated domestic market means expansion in Europe is all the more important. Commenting on this growth, Kannan said:

“We have significantly expanded our network from Delhi, Mumbai and lately Bengaluru, and all this has been a great journey with a lot of ups and downs.”

Sector

Frequency

Mumbai to Paris

Five weekly services

Delhi to Paris

Five weekly services

Mumbai to London

N/A

Delhi to London

Six weekly services

Mumbai to Frankfurt

Five weekly services

Delhi to Frankfurt

Six weekly services

At the start of this month, the airline increased service frequencies between Mumbai and London, moving from four weekly to a daily service. Interestingly, the last service between the two cities was on March 30. Aeroroutes reports that the Mumbai to London route “remains pending” from March 31 onwards. Data from Flightradar24 confirms that no services are scheduled after March 30. It is unclear whether Vistara has indefinitely suspended the route or will resume the connection at the start of the aviation winter season in October. Simple Flying has contacted the airline for a comment and will update this article with any response.

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The Vistara-Air India merger

Kannan said in January that he expected the merger with Air India to be completed no later than mid-2025, with approval coming within the first half of this year. As reported by Simple Flying earlier this month, Singapore’s competition regulator – the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore – has conditionally agreed to the merger. The Competition Commission of India had already approved the deal last year.

Some of Singapore’s concerns included the potential for a monopoly on four routes where Air India and Singapore Airlines control most of the market. This includes flights between Singapore, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Tiruchirapalli. In response, the airlines agreed to maintain capacity at 2019 levels on those four connections.

Rendering of a Vistara Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

Photo: Vistara

CCCS said the following in a statement:

“Even though a number of competing airlines provide air passenger transport services on these routes, the parties have sustained substantial market share in recent years. CCCS also found that the price and capacity coordination between the parties arising from the confluence of the Transactions would significantly restrict competition on the affected routes.”

Once the merger is complete, Singapore Airlines’ present 49% stake in Vistara will be exchanged for a 25.1% stake in the post-merger Air India. In other words, the airline will own a smaller stake in an overall significantly bigger airline.



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