Vistara plans to expand its fleet size and start flying overseas within two years, the airline’s CEO said on Tuesday, ahead of an expected change in aviation rules that could allow new carriers to operate abroad.
The airline, a joint venture between Singapore Airlines and Indian conglomerate Tata Group, is looking to procure an undecided number of new narrow-body and wide-body aircraft to increase domestic flights, and begin flying to the Gulf and eventually to Europe and the US, CEO Phee Teik Yeoh said.
“There are lots of opportunities. Suddenly, when the 5/20 rule goes away it’s a new ball game.”
Under the existing ‘5/20’ rule, Indian airlines must be up and running for five years or possess 20 planes before they can start flying overseas routes, a restriction the civil aviation ministry has said it is committed to scrap.
“Almost 70% of international traffic that Indians travel is westwards. This is where our focus will be,” Yeoh said.
The airline filled less than half its seats in January and February, but Yeoh said that would change now that the airline has begun taking advance bookings. “The weakest quarter is behind us,” he said.
The airline is rolling out more high-end services to tempt wealthier Indians, Yeoh said, and Vistara will soon open a “lounge” for business travellers in Delhi airport, inspired by the pampered luxury more common to airports in London and Singapore.