Aggressive cost cutting is something usually associated with budget airlines but the Tata-Singapore Airlines floated full-service carrier Vistara has adopted the same strategy when it comes to its back-end operations.
All set to launch a state-of-the-art lounge at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport, the carrier which completed one year of commercial operations earlier this month is adopting radical measures to keep its non-customer fronting expenses to the barest minimum.
“Luxury is not a word in our vocabulary. Whatever we can cut and save, we plough it back towards our product and service enhancement,” said Phee Teik Yeoh, chief executive of India’s youngest national airline.
None of the airline’s top executives, including Yeoh, have personal secretaries.
“We have to walk the talk. We try cost leadership across the company as much as we can on non–customer fronting expenses,” he says.
“The motto in Vistara is ‘every rupee counts’. And, we treat company expenditure as our own,” says Yeoh, who hasn’t asked the promoters for fresh equity. “At this stage we are still comfortable with the Rs 500 crore (paid up capital),” he says.
The airline, he says, is very disciplined in terms of hiring. With around 900 employees and nine Airbus A320s, its employee-to-aircraft ratio is about 1:100.
“Operationally, we run a very tight ship. We have recently commenced single engine taxiing on arrival,” he says.
Aviation expert Rajji Rai described Vistara as “a classy product” and added that “when it comes to product and services, they have definitely excelled”.
There’s also a lot of emphasis on multi-tasking like the airline’s head of in-flight services doubling up as the chief of cabin services – tasks usually handled by different individuals in most airlines.
For an airline that has no international operations, isn’t having a lounge an expense that could have been avoided? “Lounge is one such investment which we believe that the customer needs to have for a different perception of flying,” says Yeoh.
Accessible to only business class passengers to start with, the airline says it will look at ways at how other passengers can access it too.