Vistara, the joint venture airline of Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, is looking to cash in on a turmoil in the aviation sector, with the largest private airline Jet Airways's being grounded and Air India struggling to stay afloat, by infusing money into fleet expansion.
Vistara promoters, Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, have pumped Rs 4,000 crore into the airline in the last one year, according to a Livemint report, the largest capital infusion Vistara has received in a year since it started flying in 2015.
Earlier, Vistara had said it had hired around 500 ex-employees of Jet Airways including pilots, the cabin crew, engineers and other staff. Both Jet and Air India have vacated a number of flying sectors, freeing up dozens of slots at airports and paving way for other carriers to expand operations faster.
The airline is ramping up its presence in the domestic market, having added six planes, including four Boeing 737s, to its fleet in April. These Boeing 737s were earlier flown by Jet Airways and will have two class configurations (12 business and 156 economy seats).
At present, the full-service carrier connects 24 destinations, operates over 850 flights a week served by a fleet of 22 Airbus A320 aircraft.
Leslie Thng, chief executive officer of Vistara, said, "Our focus on serving the domestic market has remained unwavering even as we prepare to become an international airline.
These leased aircraft will be deployed to meet the sudden drop in capacity in the market and to aid convenience of travellers."
Thng said the decision to induct different aircraft type in Vistara fleet is a carefully evaluated one, which is both economically and commercially viable, and will eventually help in expanding the airline across India.
In March, Civil Aviation Secretary P S Kharola said Vistara has been given permission to operate international flights.
However, the race to acquire Jet's market share won't be easy as Spicejet and Indigo, too, are going on an expansion mode. Spicejet recently said it has added some 23 planes in the last one month alone. The Gurugram-based budget carrier now has 68 Boeing 737s, 30 Bombardier Q-400s and two B737 freighters.
Besides, IndiGo airlines is still the biggest domestic carrier -- operating 230 of 595 planes flying in the Indian skies.