Vistara will begin its international operations with the Airbus fleet of A 320Neos, said CEO Leslie Thng, as the airline looks to improve connectivity.
Constraints in the country's infrastructure and rising fuel prices, however, remain a concern for the growing Indian aviation market, Thng added.
The airline announced a combined order of 19 planes from Airbus and Boeing worth $3.1 billion. Edited Excerpt: Q: What does this order mean for the airline going forward? Leslie: India’s position as the world’s fastest-growing domestic aviation market and its impressive growth in air passenger traffic that has more than doubled over the last decade, makes us confident of our aggressive plans for domestic expansion and international foray.
These orders are a landmark step in Vistara’s journey and demonstrate our deep-rooted commitment to contributing to the rise of the Indian aviation industry and to offering more choices to our customers. We are delighted to further deepen our relationship with Airbus and to join hands with Boeing to strengthen our modern and fuel-efficient fleet that will help achieve our thought-through ambitions.
The aircraft from Airbus will help us densify our domestic network and to support the launch of our international operations later this year, while the aircraft from Boeing will help us expand into medium and long-haul international routes.
Q. By when do you expect the deliveries to start? Leslie: The aircraft from Airbus are scheduled for delivery between 2019 and 2023, and the six wide-body aircraft from Boeing will be delivered between 2019 and 2020. Q: Which network/sectors will these planes be used for? Leslie: It is premature for us to comment on the destinations. We will begin flying abroad to destinations within the range of our existing fleet of Airbus A320neo aircraft. At present, we’re in the process of seeking necessary approvals from various authorities to start international operations. Q: How do you view the Indian market at present? Leslie: The Indian aviation industry has been growing at an exponential pace against a backdrop of rapid economic development, coupled with the burgeoning middle-class and continuously evolving consumer preferences making the future of air travel even brighter.
Such a scenario brings forth an array of opportunities for all players in the market and we find this phenomenon even more relevant for a full-service carrier like ourselves.
To talk of challenges, the cost of doing business in the Indian aviation sector continues to rise.
Volatility in fuel prices combined with the high tax on aviation turbine fuel and other national policy related issues continue to challenge the sector’s growth. Besides, infrastructural issues constraint airlines and eventually all related businesses.
Having said that, there is an increased impetus on the infrastructure development by the government, which makes us confident of our growth as well as of the industry on the whole.
Q: How soon can we expect Vistara to make its announcement regarding international operations? Leslie: We’re in the process of finalising our international operations plan and will announce it at an appropriate time. Disclosure: Vistara and Boeing are launch partners of CNBC-TV18.com.