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Vistara might cut business-class seats

Airline likely keep constant number of premium economy seats

Vistara may cut business class seats

Aneesh Phadnis Mumbai
Vistara might halve the number of business class seats in Airbus A320 aircraft, which it will induct early next year, as it struggles to fill up the front end of its flights. The airline is likely to keep constant the number of premium economy seats and plans to increase the number of economy class seats, aviation sources said.

At present, Vistara has six Airbus A320s in a three class configuration. The revised  configuration could see Vistara aircraft with eight business class seats instead of 16, while premium economy seats would remain unchanged at 36. Economy class will have more seats (from 96 now).

The airline said it would receive three more aircraft by December-end.  Changes in cabin configurations, according to sources, are expected from the 10th aircraft that is expected in early 2016. Vistara plans to induct 20 A320s by 2018.

A final decision on revising cabin configuration is yet to be taken and the management is monitoring demand growth in premium economy and business class seating. “We are constantly revisiting how things are done and what we can do to improve efficiency, service, operations etc. Unfortunately, we would not be able to comment on your specific query of whether or when we plan to review our seat configuration,” chief commercial officer G M Toh said. The airline has been unable to grow its passenger load in the first eight months. The average occupancy was around 60 per cent, which is far below the other domestic airlines.

While economy class has high loads and there is a pick up in premium economy seating, Vistara's business class has poor loads. The airline has been carrying out promotional offers like free premium economy ticket with a business class ticket to push up sales.

“The lack of broad network of business destinations with services at convenient timings, adds to the challenge. This is reflected by the extremely-low passenger load factors. The airline appears to be relying on value-added services such as wi-fi on aircraft. This would provide sustainable competitive advantage to Vistara, but it is not likely to generate adequate monetary returns,” wrote Devesh Agarwal, editor of Bangalore Aviation, an aviation blog.

Vistara launched in January and now services 10 destinations. Next month, it would add Bhubaneswar to its network. Since its launch the airline has flown half a million passengers and now operates 245 daily flights.

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First Published: Sep 17 2015 | 12:31 AM IST

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