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Vistara, a full-service carrier promoted by Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, is planning to expand its wings to international markets by the second half of 2018.
The airline plans to apply for clearance after inducting its 20th aircraft in May. After announcing the launch of daily direct flights between Delhi and Chennai today, Sanjiv Kapoor, Vistara’s Chief Strategy and Commercial Officer said currently the airline has 17 aircraft and needs 20 to apply for an international license. Vistara is expecting its 20th plane in May, and plans to add two more taking the total number to 22 by June 2018. “By the second half, we hope to fly outside India,” said Kapoor. He added, with the type of Aircraft (A320), which will be inducted, the airline can fly to destinations that involve up to 3.5-4 hours of flying time from the Indian airports, so the focus would be South East Asia and the Middle East circle initially. To expand further, the Airline is also planning to induct 2-3 wide body aircraft for long-haul, which will fly for 8-9 hours by next year, said Kapoor. While declining to comment on the proposed investments in aircraft induction, he said, the planes will be leased with airline's specifications. Vistara currently covers 21 destinations in the domestic circuit and Chennai will be the 22nd and also the last metro to be served by the airline. “Since we are a full-service carrier, we need to have corporate travellers so our main focus will be metros,” said Kapoor, even as he didn't rule out the possibility of adding smaller planes in the future, to take on low-cost carriers catering to leisure destinations. “Such routes are not only becoming popular, but are also becoming profitable, so we may consider them in the future,” he said. There are two major constraints for Vistara to expand: one is availability of planes and the other is issues related to infrastructure including parking, congestion, services (in terms of security clearance etc.) at the airports. Apart from Delhi, which will be a hub, Vistara will use Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai as bases to park its aircraft. Responding to a query on the proposed sale of Air India, Kapoor said the promoters (Tata and SIA), might be interested in buying the carrier, though not Vistara.