Vistara to upgrade 787-9s for long haul

Updated on Mar 18, 2021 08:34 AM IST

Vistara currently flies the two wide-body Dreamliners to select international destinations, including London, as well as on domestic routes. Vistara has also an option to order four more 787-9 planes.

Vistara is in talks with Boeing to add a rest compartment for crew in some 787-9 planes it will receive in the next few years, which will let the carrier start non-stop flights on long-haul routes.(Mint Archive)
Vistara is in talks with Boeing to add a rest compartment for crew in some 787-9 planes it will receive in the next few years, which will let the carrier start non-stop flights on long-haul routes.(Mint Archive)
ByRhik Kundu, Livemint, New Delhi

Vistara is in talks with Boeing Co. to modify 787-9 Dreamliner jets it is set to induct over the next two years by adding a rest room for crews, allowing the airline to mount direct long-haul flights to US and other countries, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

The carrier—a joint venture between Tata Sons Pvt. Ltd and Singapore Airlines Ltd—has received so far two of six 787-9 Dreamliners it ordered in 2018 to operate medium and long-haul international flights. It took delivery of the first plane in February 2020 and the rest are slated to join by 2023.

Vistara currently flies the two wide-body Dreamliners to select international destinations, including London, as well as on domestic routes. Vistara has also an option to order four more 787-9 planes.

“The airline’s current Boeing 787-9 fleet however can’t be used to fly long-haul since these don’t have provisions for carrying an extra set of pilots,” said one of the two people cited above, on condition of anonymity. Having rest compartments will allow the airline to carry an extra set of pilots needed for direct long-haul flights.

The second person cited above said Vistara is in talks with Boeing to add a rest compartment for crew in some 787-9 planes it will receive in the next few years, which will let the carrier start non-stop flights on long-haul routes.

“The Boeing 787-9 is integral to the airline’s plan to fly long-haul,” the person said.

National carrier Air India Ltd is the only other airline in the country to have wide-body planes capable of long-haul flights. Air India operates direct flights to Australia and the US.

The 787-9 Dreamliner has a flying range of 13,950km and can carry up to 296 passengers in two-class configuration, according to Boeing’s website. Vistara planes have a three-class configuration comprising economy, premium economy and business.

A spokesperson for Boeing said the company does not comment on customer orders. A spokesperson for Vistara said the airline is working on its fleet plans but “doesn’t have anything to share”. Vistara flew to nearby international destinations like Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka and the UAE before international flights from India were grounded in March 2020 following the Covid outbreak. The airline currently flies to London and Maldives under bilateral agreements.

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