Tata SIA Airlines Limited (TSAL), the joint venture between Indian conglomerate Tata Sons Ltd and Asian carrier Singapore Airlines, has announced that its new full-service airline business in India will operate under the brand Vistara, a Sanskrit and Hindi word, which means limitless expanse. The carrier expects to launch operations in October 2014 using a fleet of Airbus A320s.
The start-up has bold ambitions to set a new industry benchmark for others to follow in India. It will initially launch operations from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport serving a mixture of metros and non-metros markets where there is a clear demand for a full-service carrier. Its first aircraft is due to arrive in September with a fleet of five due to be operational by the end of 2014.
In its first stage of development Vistara has committed to lease 20 A320s, including seven neos, the first of which are due to be delivered in 2017. These aircraft will cover the airline’s first five years of operations up until the end of 2019. No details on configuration have yet been revealed, although its full-service proposition would suggest a two-class arrangement with a comfortable internal layout.
The airline aims to transform the air traveller’s experience in India and claims to have an “obsession for quality in every aspect of customer engagement,” and will treat travellers as unique individuals and delight them with intuitive thoughtfulness.
“Vistara will redefine the way we travel in India. I can confidently say that Tata's and SIA's legendary hospitality standards and service excellence will make Vistara a natural choice for passengers," explained Prasad Menon, chairman, TSAL.
The name Vistara is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Vistaar’, which means ‘limitless expanse’, and draws inspiration from the brand’s domain -- the ‘limitless’ sky. The logo is derived from a ‘yantra’, a perfect mathematical form that reflects the unbounded universe. The start-up says its “fluid interconnecting lines” reflect the seamless experience the airline wants to offer its customers.
"We aim to deliver a seamless experience via personalisation of services for guests who travel with us. Our core belief is that we will be intuitively thoughtful about our guests' needs from the time they contact us to the time they leave the airport. Whether they are leisure or business travellers, we would like to make a significant difference at every stage of their air travel experience, and truly bring back the joy of flying," said Phee Teik Yeoh, chief executive officer, TSAL.
The launch of the brand follows confirmation last month that the Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation had rejected all objections to the start-up’s formation clearing the way for the granting of an air permit. This business applied for the Air Operator’s Permit in April 2014 after it received its No Objection Certificate from the Indian Civil Aviation Ministry.
This represents a notable development in India’s aviation sector as the Tata family has played an integral role in the development of the local sector with JRD Tata obtaining the first pilot’s licence in the country in 1929 and launching commercial services under the Tata Airlines name in 1932. Tata Airlines became a public entity in 1946 and was renamed Air India and when later nationalised in 1953, JRD Tata was appointed chairman, a role he kept until 1977.
In our analysis, below, we look at the largest operators in the domestic Indian market from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport and how their share of available seat capacity from the airport has changed over the past five years. Between 2008 and 2013 capacity has risen 31.8 per cent with an average annual growth of 6.4 per cent and the main operators have changed considerably as Indian Airlines was swallowed by Air India and Kingfisher Airlines collapsed. Low-cost carrier IndiGo is now has the largest share of domestic capacity from Delhi, although Air India continues to grow its offering.