Monday, 7 November 2016

Vistara may fly to Kolkata, Chennai next fiscal

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Vistara, the joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, is aiming to add four to five destinations to its service in the next financial year.

“We will also increase frequency of our existing destinations. The choice of destinations would be based purely on route economics. While metros like Kolkata and Chennai are the natural choices, non-metros and tier-II cities also figure on our radar,” said Niyant Maru, chief financial officer.

Vistara was also keen to extend its services beyond Indian shores but was constrained by the 5/20 rule of the civil aviation ministry. According to this, only carriers with at least five years of domestic operations and a fleet strength of 20 are permitted.

Presently, Vistara has 293 frequencies across 11 destinations — Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Goa, Guwahati, Bagdogra and Bhubaneswar. Vistara has seven aircraft and aims to expand it to 20 by 2019.
Varanasi would figure in its list of destinations from October 21.

On Thursday, Vistara announced the launch of operations from Bhubaneswar to Delhi. From October 5, it would run two daily flights connecting Bhubaneswar with New Delhi. It has chosen Bhubaneswar given the surge of investments to Odisha and the emergence of the city as a growing IT and education hub.
"We have seen a decent amount of bookings in the inaugural run. Overall, Vistara's occupancy rate is as good as some of the big operators", Maru claimed.
Though Vistara has carved a niche in the aviation space with the introduction of premium economy segment, lukewarm occupancy at its business class seats was worrying.
The airline operator, however, clarified it had no plans to reconfigure its seats despite the low load factor in business class. As of now, it offered 16 seats in business class, 36 in the premium economy segment and 96 under economy category. Vistara was operating its flights at around 60 per cent occupancy.
"We are keeping a close tab on our occupancy and the market dynamics. While we do not deny the possibility of trimming business class seats, we rule out any reconfiguration at least till the end of December this year. Our premium economy class with its features like extra leg space, segregated check in facility and sumptuous meals are drawing more corporate travellers and this could be the reason for the tepid response to business class", said a company spokesperson.

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