Full-service carrier Vistara plans to start its international operations with flights to the Gulf and the South-East Asian regions with its A320 Neo planes, the airline's CEO Leslie Thng said on Friday.
The Tata-Singapore Airline joint venture plans to kick- off its international operations from the second half of this year, though the airline will explore the possibility of flying overseas earlier.
Vistara has 17 aircraft in its fleet and will induct its 20th aircraft in March, which will allow it as per norms to start international operations. The 0/20 rule mandates an airline to have at least 20 aircraft in its fleet before being allowed to fly internationally.
It plans to add its 21st and 22nd aircraft in May and June, respectively. The entire fleet of 22 aircraft will comprise Airbus A320 planes -- 13 A320 ceo (current engine option) and nine A320 neo (new engine option) aircraft.
"If you look at A320 and their range in terms of where they can fly, we are looking at four to five hours (of flight). (Which means) it is going to be regional, it is going to be in the Gulf, South East Asia. For the initial plan, this is where we are venturing into," the Vistara CEO told reporters.
Vistara has already started "engaging" with the regulatory body, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, for requisite permissions for its international operations.
He added there was no decision on the type of aircraft the airline will buy beyond its 22nd aircraft.
"We don't have any firm plans, we are still in discussions as to how and when we are intending to this. We are planning our international operations in a progressive manner, meaning we will start with the regional and short haul, and then progress to medium haul, and eventually long haul," Thng said
Since a medium haul would mean five to nine hours of flight, the airline would have to look at a different types of aircraft, Thng said, adding it was open to aeroplane manufacturers other than Airbus.
Over the three years, the airline has been inducting 5-6 aircraft annually but going forward Vistara intends to be "more aggressive" in terms of its fleet expansion.
The airline will also be partnering with global airlines to be able to sell more destinations in different countries.
"When we go int'l in country A we are not going to fly many many destinations there, we will need a player who can support us for the feed so that we can sell more destinations in country A," according to Thng.
While it adds international destinations, Vistara will also aim to strengthen its domestic network so that it can develop Delhi as a hub.
"When we go international we need to beef up our own domestic network because our primary hub will still be in Delhi. To go international, we need to build up connectivity between Delhi and all the different metros and tier-2 and tier 3 cities so that we can provide connectivity both ways," the CEO said.