Vistara gets US DoT’s tentative approval to fly to the USA

With the pandemic raging, network planning plans for airlines are all gone for a toss. However, this allowed Vistara to move forward with its ambitions.

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. Delhi – Tokyo weekly flights will be launched in mid-June 2021. 

There are more B787-9s on order. 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 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. In April 2021, Vistara applied to the US Department of Transport for a Foreign Air Carrier Permit to fly to the USA. 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 has now received tentative approval to operate flights to the USA. Assuming no objections from other carriers such as United and Delta, a final decision could be delivered by the end of the month.

Remember, India and the USA have an Open Skies agreement, which means any approved airline can launch flights to the other’s 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 perform 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’s statement indicated similarly that they are not ready to make announcements yet,

We confirm that Vistara has reached out to the relevant authorities in the United States of America to secure permissions to commence operations to the US. While we have received the temporary Foreign Air Carrier Permit from the Department of Transportation, USA, the process is still ongoing. We shall be sharing further details at an appropriate time.


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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  1. Once EWR or JFK is established, I’d say SFO or LAX would be good choices, particularly the former.

  2. Considering B787 limitations on long haul, DEL/BOM-LHR is already operational and lean traffic currently, UK Can explore India-USA via LHR as fifth freedom flight. I believe AI used to operate fifth freedom flight via LHR.

  3. Vistara has a very close relationship with Singapore Airlines. The FRA and NRT flights probs would fill with US-India traffic on the EWR-FRA and LAX-NRT flights from SQ.

  4. My guess is Newark. Considering they have been flirting with United, this gives them more opportunities for connecting traffic.

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