Vistara B787-9 Dreamliner-The best thing to happen in Indian aviation, but coming at the wrong time ?

Vistara B787-9

There have only been a handful of airlines namely Air India, Jet Airways and Kingfisher which have put India on the global map in terms of long haul routes out of which only one is still operating. IndiGo, Go Air and Spicejet have had their share of connecting india overseas but don’t have the aircraft to fly long haul yet, which is why Vistara inducting the B787-9 opens up new possibilities for indian aviation.

Why is Vistara’s induction of B787-9 the best thing to happen in Indian aviation.

Vistara commenced operations on 9th January 2015 and is a joint venture between Tata sons and Singapore Airlines. The airline currently serves 34 destinations with 40 aircrafts. Vistara met with the requirement of having more than 20 jets needed for international flights in June 2018 and launched its first international service to Singapore on the 6th of August 2019. The aircraft received its first B787-9 last month and has 5 more aircrafts on the pipeline becoming the only carrier in India to offer a 3 class product namely Business class, Premium Economy and Economy.

With Jet Airways going out of the market, Vistara remain the only other full service carrier in India after Air India. The advantages Vistara poses is that they have newer aircrafts with updated technology offering longer ranges and are more fuel efficient with more passengers. If their long haul routes become economically workable then it offers a good transit point in either Mumbai or Delhi as they are strategically well positioned and could offer connecting flights to the East for the passengers arriving from the west. This is possibly Vistara’s best chance to fill the gap left by Jet Airways and even build on it. Some of the possible destinations it could serve initially are London-Heathrow, Tokyo and Frankfurt subject to slot availability on its first phase of expansion and is expected to eye the Australia and North America under its second phase expansion.

Vistara B787-9 at Seattle

Vistara B787-9 registered as VT-TSD departing from Seattle    Photo:Vistara

Is it at the wrong time ?

Global airlines are estimated to lose around $113 billion due to the coronavirus. There is a global slowdown resulting in loss of revenue for airlines. Vistara has already cancelled flights to Singapore and Bangkok from Mumbai and Delhi. In a recent report occupancy rate in India has dropped by 15% and fares have plummeted. Vistara was initially planning to operate to London-Heathrow from Mumbai or Delhi. A slot at a prime airport such as London-Heathrow the price could go upto $70 million during the peak hour. Even if Vistara could buy or lease a slot they should have enough load factor in order for the route to be economically feasible. But with the current trend airlines have now started to use long haul aircrafts on domestic routes due to cancellation of long haul routes. Initially Vistara was planning to use the B787-9 aircraft domestically on the Delhi-Mumbai route for crew familiarisation but as for now we will have to wait and see how and when the Dreamliner takeoff overseas.

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