The speed at which Indian aviation evolves is mind-boggling these days. Airlines are working overtime to one-up each other on new routes and so on. But one airline which is not indulging in the regional launches game much is Vistara, which has their eye set on the ball for long-haul operations.
With Jet Airways out of the way and the reduction in services from Indian operators on international operations, the road is set for Vistara to make a successful debut on the long-haul segments of London Heathrow, as well as Tokyo which is on their wishlist first.
Vistara, when it placed its order for 6 787-9 orders and four options, had their delivery schedule starting early 2020, with the first and second airframes coming in February and March 2020. This would have allowed them to launch their long-haul flights at the turn of the schedule in March 2020 (Summer Schedule sets in on the last Sunday of March 2020)
However, this morning the spotters at Everett sprung a surprise! Vistara has taken over an airframe that was initially scheduled to go to Hainan Airlines, and this aircraft just got back from the paint shop this morning into Everett.
— Holden Riley (@PlanesAtPaine) October 9, 2019
Vistara has taken over a 787-9 slot which was earlier allocated to Hainan Airlines (which had 38 787-9 on order and eight yet to be delivered). Since Hainan Airlines has not picked up some of their 787-9 produced earlier in the year (since July 2019) and is a part of the HNA group which saw significant financial trouble, Vistara may have swooped in to take these slots given they are in a rush, and any aircraft earlier than 2020 would be welcome.
The question then is, there are a few more such airframes, which fit the Vistara conditions. Vistara intends to buy only built-in Everett airframes, so, there are other such airframes which were built for Hainan Airlines which are also available.
An opportunity for Vistara to pick up an aircraft earlier than 2020 suits everyone. The earlier Vistara gets their plane, the earlier they can launch them first on domestic flights for training and lay their hands on slots for international flights, which would be harder otherwise given IndiGo is gnawing everything away.
On the other hand, for Boeing, every delivery counts at this moment. Just yesterday, on October 8, 2019, Boeing reported that they only delivered 302 commercial aircraft this year. Deliveries have slowed down due to the grounding of the 737 MAX programme for the moment, and competitor Airbus is at 571 deliveries for the year through September 2019 so far. So, to be able to deliver aircraft to those willing to take them over is better than holding on to them on their assembly line.
I would expect Vistara to induct their first 787 aircraft within the year rather than wait through 2020.
Does this mean Vistara will start international long-haul operations sooner? We will wait to find out. In the meanwhile, what do you make of the hastened plans of Vistara to go flying long-haul?