Vistara files paperwork to fly non-stop to the USA; Hopes to start operations by September 2021

File this under the silent ambition files. With the pandemic raging, all the network planning plans for airlines are going for a toss. However, this will also open an opportunity for the airlines that want to create a network and have the staying power. Top of that list is Vistara, which, apart from IndiGo, is building a domestic and international network, hoping to become the next big full-service airline out of India and match or perhaps even supersede the network of Jet Airways, if not Air India in the near term.

Vistara received their first Boeing 787-9 aircraft just over 13 months ago, and then the second. With these two aircraft, the airline has launched flights between Delhi and the UK (London Heathrow) and Delhi and Frankfurt Airport. Paris was on the anvil, but we don’t have clarity now on when will it be launched due to the state of the pandemic here in India.

a large white airplane on a concrete surface

There are more B787-9s on order, and at least a couple of these Boeing 787-9 aircraft (registration VT-TSN/VT-TSH) are at Boeing facilities in the USA, in various states of readiness and stored to be delivered to Vistara. Still, with no use for them right now, perhaps Vistara and Boeing may be discussing a deferred delivery of these for now. These discussions are confidential, and neither party is under any obligation to disclose these to the public.

The current batch of Boeing 787-9 aircraft for Vistara cannot do a non-stop flight from India to the USA; even those the aircraft has the range to do the mission. Like we’ve discussed before, this is because of the overhead crew rest area not being built into the first batch of planes for Vistara, as a 9-10 hour long mission does not need it. On a more extended mission, such as those to the USA, flights operate with two sets of crews, and one gets to rest while the other operates the flight, and then they swap. These planes are still on the options list of Vistara where there are 4 787-9 aircraft which are listed as options for Vistara and still not confirmed, although I am guessing Vistara might have just taken the call to get their Plane 5 & 6 to have these extra trims to be able to fly out to the USA. This was our position in November 2020 that Vistara might fast track their plans to the USA, which were to come after launching a network to Europe and Asia initially.

Now to the paperwork. Earlier in 2020, Vistara got the designated carrier status to the USA. Now, Vistara has applied to the US Department of Transport for a Foreign Air Carrier Permit to fly to the USA.

a close up of a letter

As per the Vistara application,

Vistara proposes to launch scheduled air transportation between the U.S. and India on or about September 1, 2021, using Boeing B787 aircraft already in its fleet.


Vistara seeks authority to operate scheduled air transportation of persons, property, and mail between points on the following routes:

  • from points behind India via India and intermediate points to a point or points in the United States and beyond; and
  • for all-cargo service or services, between the United States and any point or point

Remember, India and the USA have an Open Skies agreement, which means any approved airline can launch flights to the other country. Air India and United already operate multiple daily direct non-stop flights between various points in both countries. American Airlines has recently put its hat in the ring to operate a couple of flights, including Delhi – New York JFK. However, Delta, which used to operate between New York JFK and Mumbai, has not been seen in this part of the world for long.

When Vistara launches, which will timeline irrelevant, it will be the only non-alliance aligned carrier on this route for a while. There is no mention of a route for now, but one can expect the first flight to be originating from New Delhi to the eastern seaboard of the USA, perhaps one of the two New York airports. This should be a contest to Air India with its broken planes flying on this flagship route.


Vistara is accelerating its plans to get to the USA, while the one-stop carriers do not challenge non-stop traffic to the US for the time being. The airline plans to operate in the USA from September 2021 with its 787-9 aircraft fleet.

What do you think of the plans of Vistara to fly out to the USA later in 2021?

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Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. I have been on Vistara First Class from Ladakh to New Delhi. New planes, young staff and wonderful service.

    I would definitely fly them from the United States to Delhi when the routes open…if they were affiliated with Star Alliance group headed by Lufthansa.

    Not sure when this will occur. I am hoping to fly from Miami to Mumbai in mid-October and hoping that the covid-19 problem is under control. What do you think?

  2. They absolutely can run the flights with the existing planes, as the application notes they intend to do.

    Seats must be set aside for crew rest, and that will cost the company lost revenue because it cannot sell them to passengers (particularly the flat beds required for pilots). But it can be done.

    • @Seth, agree, it can be done. But like I mentioned ahead, revenue hit will be hard. Not sure how their pipeline with Boeing is for now, but two confirmed planes need to be delivered, which could just be with the crew bunk area. Hazarding a guess. Or otherwise Vistara starts with existing 787-9s and migrates to those as they arrive.

  3. Great News. Vistara is slowly becoming Jet Airways replacement. Good news for Axis/SBI Vistara card range holders (esp Axis Vistara Infinite).

    The points aren’t worth it for international flights but rest of the perks would definitely be.

    • Do we have any Credit Card using which we can use earn miles and Redeem International Flight Tickets? I was wondering why Vistara doesn’t allow burning CV points for International Flights.

      • With any Vistara card you can burn the points on International Vistara Flights, it’s just not worth it and devalues the points significantly. You get a much better return using them on domestic flights.

  4. For those planes without crew rests, is blocking business class seats for the pilots not an option to make the flight to the US possible?

    • @Kipate that could very well be a solution, but I don’t think that is the solution Vistara wants to use. Also, it takes away valuable seats from their very small 24 seat inventory in the front of the plane, which would perhaps sell like hotcakes and hence, cause revenue to be reduced. Hence, my guess that the next planes come with crew bunks.

      • Oh yes. Forgot they have only 24 seats to play with. What was the reason to order the planes without the crew rest? Almost seems like a no brainer to order one of the longest range airplanes with a proper crew rest.

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