It began flying in January 2015 and operates 130 daily flights, with 22 aircraft. Thng said they were aiming at double-digit capacity growth and would add six to 10 of Airbus’ A320neo planes in 2019. Deliveries will begin from the second half of the year. There is no plan to take more aircraft on lease.
The airline has 56 planes on order — 50 of Airbus (A320s and A321neos) and six of the Boeing 787-9s. It will induct the Boeing planes from the first quarter of 2020 and has begun training its pilots for this.
“We are still waiting for final approval for international operations,” said the chief executive. The airline was originally aiming to ply abroad from the end of 2018. Government rules require an airline to have a minimum of 20 planes before this could be allowed. Vistara became eligible last year and had applied the civil aviation ministry in June, with a plan for flights to Bangkok, Phuket, Colombo and Male by the winter schedule of 2018.
Approval seems to have been held up due to a pending corruption probe against Tata-owned AirAsia. The proposal is now before and inter-ministerial panel.
While a dip in fuel prices has given airlines a breather, competition pressure and pricing remain a concern. Vistara has been able to increase fares and yields over last year, Thng said.
“We have done reasonably well in building brand and loyalty. We have seen our average fare has increased on a year on year basis,” he said. Occupancy was improving, too, in the business and premium economy cabins.