A thing long coming was finally put in motion a couple of days ago. Tatas and Singapore Airlines announced the intention to fold Vistara into Air India in November 2022, and from there on, everyone has been wondering and opinionating on the next steps. The conglomerate applied for the approval of the Competition Commission of India, an essential step to move forward with the amalgamation of the two airlines.
Vistara assures loyal members that nothing will change.
In an email that has been pushed out to members of the loyalty programme of Vistara that nothing will change after the completion of the merger, that Club Vistara will remain the same as it was and so on. To reproduce the exact language,
We are cognizant of the fact that the news of integration would have raised questions in your mind regarding your Club Vistara membership. We would like to assure you that all the benefits and privileges associated with your CV Points, tiers, vouchers, etc. will remain unchanged as per the current program construct. Please be assured that your interest will always remain most important to us regardless of our corporate structure. We deeply value our relationship and will keep you informed of any significant changes to our program or its features.
This is a pacification move from Vistara. The question has been on the minds of their member base for a while, but now that the regulatory process has kicked off, they may have felt it necessary to reassure members that everything is still the same. And it won’t.
Here is how it will work from here on…
Airline mergers are incredibly complicated, as there will be many things to look out for. In the case of this merger, some of the things that come top of mind are:
- People Integration
- Fleet Integration
- Systems Integration (tonne of them, including reservation, IT, back office, management of spares, etc. )
- Network and Route integration
- Loyalty Programme integration
The first step will be to close out the financial dealings and bring the company, people, and TATA SIA’s assets into Air India. The airlines will operate with their codes and Air Operating Certificates for a while, which means the Air India folks take care of the Air India part of things, and Vistara folks will take care of Vistara operations. From there, the duplications will be removed, and people will be brought into different functions depending on where they are needed.
What happens to Club Vistara and Flying Returns
After the merger, the two airlines will, at some point, offer a loyalty programme interchange, where you can move your Club Vistara points into Flying Returns at a preset ratio and vice versa. The Flying Returns programme in its current form is not fit for future consumption, so it will need to undergo massive changes to be competitive.
Once the new programme is ready, people will be able to move with their CV numbers, if they so wish, into the Air India programme, which will be the headline programme. Until then, the programme will continue as intended, and perhaps at some point, you will be able to put your Air India flights on Vistara and Vistara flights on Air India programmes.
Vistara has told their members that the loyalty programme remains as is at the moment, and there are no changes to the programme for now. They have further assured members that they will tell them more about any changes when they are ready to make them. Of course, changes will come by the dozen soon. For the cautious people, I’ve heard they’ve stopped accumulating CV points and are focussing on burning off their balances for the time being.
What do you think will be the way forward for Club Vistara? Do you agree with my assessment or look at it differently?
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I think the concerns are quite overblown. I’m quite confident that Tata’s will not shortchange either of the loyalty programs. They are in it for the long haul and not for short term gains. I have full faith in the team’s ability to execute this well.
@Mika, I don’t share your enthusiasm. They don’t know loyalty, and their concepts are not in line with the world.
I get where you’re coming from. I still credit my AI flights to MileagePlus. But I have faith in thirst for market share and loyalty is a big tool to achieve that.
@Mika, let us take this offline. I have much to say.