Vistara 737 800 aircraft leaving fleet starting January 2020

Last year (2019), Vistara made a big splash by deciding to induct Boeing 737 aircraft in its fleet after the government decided that new slots were only going to be given away to Indian airlines which would show new capacity induction, and not just rejig older routes to grab new slots. Given Vistara’s new A320 aircraft were not slotted to be delivered before the last quarter of 2019, Vistara figured they would add used aircraft on lease to show this increased capacity.

Since there were only Boeing 737 aircraft available on short notice in India (ex Jet Airways airframes), Vistara made a bold move of inducting 737 aircraft for the time being while their own aircraft would have not flown in from Airbus. After all, they had to induct these aircraft and press them into service within a month.

Vistara 737 800

Over a period of time, Vistara inducted 9 737 aircraft on various short term lease tenures and inducted ex-Jet Airways cabin crew, flight crew, engineers and others. They also leased an A320neo airframe which is fully economy class configured and used to be operated by WOWAir earlier. These inductions helped them launch flights across the country, but largely build a big presence out of Mumbai, which was always on the wishlist of Vistara, but the airline was not able to get any slots due to none being available. Vistara, for instance, took over 5 daily frequencies to Bangalore from Mumbai.

Now, with Vistara moving forward on inducting their Airbus A320neo aircraft, and having already inducted all 9 of the new aircraft intended to be inducted during October 2019 – March 2020, the airline has now started to release some of the old 737s. Here are the induction lists of all the Airbus A320neos from the new order:

  1. VT-TNL (October 2019)
  2. VT-TNM (November 2019)
  3. VT-TNP (October 2019)
  4. VT-TNQ (October 2019)
  5. VT-TNR (October 2019)
  6. VT-TNS (December 2019)
  7. VT-TNU (November 2019)
  8. VT-TNV (November 2019)
  9. VT-TNW (December 2019)

Moving forward, Vistara will induct two of their 787-9 aircraft and at least one A321neo aircraft during 2020 quarter one 2020.

With the newer aircraft being inducted, Vistara has started to let go some of their Boeing 737 aircraft. The first two aircraft being pulled out of service will be in January 2020, and the Vistara inflight magazine has already reduced the count by 2 to reflect 7 Boeing 737 aircraft in January 2020. The rest of the fleet is also intended to go away within the year. The first two aircraft which will fly away are VT-TGC and VT-TGF. [Update: Vistara will continue to have some 737 aircraft over the years, through at least 2023, as per industry sources]

Remember, Vistara was using the Boeing 737s to fly to Singapore before the newer higher MTOW A320Neos came into the fleet. With these Airbus aircraft having taken over the Singapore route, Vistara can easily retire two aircraft now to start.

What do you make of Vistara’s extremely smart plan to use 737 aircraft to gain more slots at Mumbai, and then switching them over to A320s, as compared to the other 737 operator which is operating them in tatters at the moment?

Vistara

(H/T Harsh Agarwal)

Comments

    • Singapore Airlines added A350 capacity with an improved product, increased frequency after Jet Airways collapsed and offer both morning and evening departures on both ends. Does Vistara really need to enter this market? Any transfer traffic is already fed through SQ and codeshare should cover UK frequent fliers.
      Pune-Singapore on the other hand is a market just waiting to be tapped…

      • @Sandeep, I don’t think anyone except Vistara network planning and Management has that idea and clue on that. To imagine that Vistara is a feeder to SQ is just the wrong idea. Vistara will use SQ resources, yes. But it will develop its own network and go where Indians want to go, something they have clarified many times earlier. The product and price point of SQ and UK are vastly different and appeal to different price points in the market.

        Using your rationale, why do we need Air India to serve any place that a Star Alliance carrier serves India? They can shut down the routes to UK, Singapore and others because another airline already works it now. Makes no sense, right? Just the way your analogy does not for BLR-SIN.

  1. Most certainly they will incur costs of retraining and writing off short term infrastructure costs to operate a different aircraft type however this was an intentional and opportunistic decision.
    Vistara has been very shrewd so far and has been relatively disciplined about their expansion hence they must have crunched their numbers before they took this call.
    I am Glad Vistara is returning to all A320 fleet and cannot wait for their A321neos offering lie flat business seats and seat back entertainment to take over the Singapore route. This will make them truly competitive.

  2. What happens to the pilots and crew? Also, the strategy may be brilliant but not without the financial toll it exerts on the carrier. Operating 2 different types and then re-training the absorbed crew needs loosening of the purse strings.

    • @Ameya funny I think everyone is busy wondering about the Vistara financials. I think we should let the airline work the numbers and worry about the retraining of the crew and the financial impact. In the long run, it would be a small cost to get a reasonable entrenchment in Mumbai and other bases which has the kind of flyers Vistara always wanted, those willing to pay a small premium to fly a better product. Good thing for them they are no longer competing with Jet in this space and only the LCCs. The Pilots and Crew obviously stay. Pilots will be retrained as well as the crew. Don’t forget the backing of Tata and SIA which has enough money to fund losses for a while now, and given they are private, no pressure to give out information to anyone except their shareholders and the Government of India.

      • Thanks for the revert.
        I believe, as customers, we need to know whether the financial position of the company is healthy. This is one of the reason why many of us try to avoid Masala. We know they don’t have the funds and they would skimp on even safety if need be.
        I agree to the point you raise of Vistara needed these aircraft in the short term to get hold of the Mumbai market. But if they chose to make an investment, I would have loved they sweat that asset to the full instead of changing it in such a short timeframe.

        • @Ameya, I respect your view on the financial position. Here is the thing, the airlines that are running short of money right now are Air India and Spice. Vistara, not so much. It has access to tonnes of funding and they get their funds time and again. The media reports the losses as per RoC, but airlines are a capital intensive business so yes, there is an upfront cost to starting a station and nurturing it to profit. Costs of putting downpayment on aircraft (before they do any leasing). upfront cost on a lot of things. So, once they are a mature airline, I expect them to move to focus on profitability.

          Coming to Vistara’s investment in aircraft, Vistara took them on lease and let them go when their purpose was served. Vistara is well in the know that this is not their original product, but they had the decency to paint the aircraft and put Vistara upholstery on the seats, even for a smaller time. That is a branding call and perhaps set them apart from SG who are still flying those aircraft without painting them. Vistara was smart to negotiate smaller leases, and there too, pick the newer aircraft only (4-5 years old). Sometimes, these calls have to be made. In the long run this would be a chapter in a book and a cost of doing business. In the short run, they finally managed to get slots out of Mumbai, and hence, the business of customers, including me, who still needed an ex-Air India full service option for themselves to fly out of Mumbai.

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