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    Vistara following a cautious approach in COVID-19 test reports

    Vistara following a cautious approach in COVID-19 test reports

    Vistara following a cautious approach in COVID-19 test reports
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    By Anu Sharma   IST (Published)

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    Without naming the labs involved, Kannan said the airline is adopting a cautious approach for test reports done by the labs involved and is asking for recertification of test results in such cases.

    Full-service carrier Vistara is adopting a cautious approach in COVID-19 test reports of international passengers after instances of positive testing at arrival following negative reports in India.
    Recently, Hong Kong had banned Air India and Vistara from October 17 till October 30 after a few passengers on their flights tested positive for COVID-19 post-arrival.
    As per Hong Kong regulation, an airline is barred from operating flights from the origin city for 14 days in case five or more passengers test positive.
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    Doubtful about the "behavior of the virus," Vistara investigated the matter and has found the test reports conducted in India as genuine, chief commercial officer Vinod Kannan said.
    Without naming the labs involved, Kannan said the airline is adopting a cautious approach for test reports done by the labs involved and is asking for recertification of test results in such cases.
    The airline reiterated that it is following the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines and is keeping its travel agents informed on the same.
    Vistara, which recently started flights to London, remains confident about international flights under air bubbles and is hopeful of full recovery in domestic operations in another 5-6 months.
    "We are operating 55-60 percent of pre-COVID capacity so broadly we are at 110-120 flights on a daily basis while we used to operate around 200 daily flights earlier," Kannan added.
    As the travel demand gradually recovers, the joint venture of Singapore Airlines and Tata Sons is not canceling any aircraft order but is rejigging the delivery schedule.
    Hence, the airline, with 43 aircraft currently in its fleet, has trimmed its fleet target by the end of 2020-21 (Apr-Mar) to 47-48 aircraft from 53 planned earlier.
    "It is a combination of real concerns, commercial reasons, operational needs,  and the situation at the manufacturer's side...," Kannan added.
    India had shut down domestic civil aviation for two months due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and domestic passenger flights resumed from May 25 with capped fares and restricted capacity. The restrictions on fares and capacity have been extended until February 24.
    "The most ideal situation for fares is a totally free market...Cognizant of reasons why fare cap is in place, have to play by the rules," Kannan said.
    The Gurugram-based airline has a fleet of 43 aircraft, including 33 Airbus A320, two Airbus A321neo, six Boeing 737-800NG, and two Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.
    As per September data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the airline’s passenger load factor stood at 66.7 percent and its market share in domestic air traffic was at 6.6 percent.
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