The day before, I was at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse for the unveil of the Airbus A220 aircraft, scratching my head about what was about to come from the Indian customer base for the airline. After all, if you visit the Airbus Delivery Centre, many a planes ready for delivery are heading to Asia, specifically India and China.
Vistara, as an airline, grew out of an idea to provide customer focussed service to the Indian flyer. When they started, they ordered 20 aircraft, and topped off with two more, to get in line with the minimum compliance required to fly internationally from India. At that point of time, the requirement for Indian airlines to fly internationally was 5 years of operations and 20 aircraft fleet at the minimum.
So the idea was to keep in line with the regulation till further clarity did not come through on if they could fly abroad or not. Fleet planning is a multi-year view subject, so it looked like a smart move to go with the minimum and start flying. Along the way, the requirements changed, to only have a 20 aircraft to be eligible to fly abroad. That is when Vistara rushed deliveries to get closer to the goal post.
Vistara added their 20th, and also their 21st aircraft this year. They are confirmed to fly abroad this year, except they haven’t made any announcements yet about where will they fly and when. The newspapers have revealed that Bangkok and Maldives could be some of the initial destinations.
Yesterday, they started to unveil their game plan for the future. The airline was speculated to order the Boeing 787 for its long-haul operations, which is something they have now confirmed.
The airline has now announced their fleet growth plans, and are working with Boeing as well as Airbus for the further growth of their fleet. The new Vistara Aircraft Order, announced yesterday their plans to add 50 Airbus A320neo family aircraft (13 firm orders, 37 to be taken from leasing companies) and 6 Boeing 787-9 aircraft. Vistara has also retained options for seven more aircraft from the A320neo family and four more aircraft from the 787 family.
Deliveries for the A320neo and A321neo aircraft will be between 2019 and 2023. For the B787-9s, delivery will be scheduled between 2020 and 2021.
While there will be many guesses about the product inside and the route network, the Boeing 787-9 could be a very nice product to start long haul network with a range that is capable to fly to North America on one end, and Australia on the other. But the airline has clarified in the press release that they would be used for medium to long haul operations. So, I’m guessing London, another European airport and Hong Kong, Singapore are also going to be a part of the game plan going forward.
I’m also sort of thinking that this is Vistara repeating their earlier launch strategy all over again. They may order more aircraft in the coming years, but they first want to start small, figure out how this could go and then once gone up the learning curve, go for the kill.
I’m clearly excited for Vistara taking these big steps, and can’t wait to see their new product.