Vistara Starts Services With Mumbai Flight
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India's new airline Vistara started services on Friday as its first flight took off for Mumbai from New Delhi.
The airline will operate a fleet of new Airbus A320-200s with 148 seats.
Tata SIA Airlines, known by its brand name Vistara, is a joint venture between Tata Group and Singapore International Airlines (SIA). While Tata Sons has a majority 51 per cent stake, SIA has the remaining 49 per cent.
The inaugural flight took off in the presence of Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma and other officials.
A group of children from Salaam Baalak Trust were on the flight for their first flying experience. The passengers included dignitaries and officials.
Vistara CEO Phee Teik Yeoh said he would like to invite India to "fly the new feeling" with his airline.
The airline begins operations at a time when other Indian carriers are going through a turbulent phase.
"We must do it right instead of making a big splash and getting into disappointment," Vistara Chairman Prasad Menon told reporters.
"Being full service doesn't mean you're lavish or you're over the top. It means serving different customers' needs differently," he said.
Tata Group's Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata said it has been a long-cherished dream for the group to establish a world-class full service airline in India and he would dedicate this day to late JRD Tata, the former chairman of the group and India's first licensed pilot.
"Today, that dream has come to life," he said.
The launch of the new full-service airline marks the re-entry of Tata group in the airline business after over six decades.
The group holds 30 per cent stake in the domestic arm of the Malaysian budget airline AirAsia India, but it is not part of day-to-day operations.
Vistara will be the third full-service carrier in the country after state-run Air India and private carrier Jet Airways.
The market is going through some tough times.
While Kingfisher Airlines had to be grounded after making a big splash with its positioning as a "luxury" carrier, budget airline Spicejet is currently facing financial difficulties.
Menon, a Tata Group veteran who has been made chairman of the new aviation venture, said that he is not worried by the competition.
"You can't start a business by being worried about competition but by believing you have a space. Competition is good for customers," he said.
Before Friday's inaugural flight, SIA CEO Goh Choon Phong said India's aviation market is expanding rapidly and they want to contribute to this growth story.
The airline had applied to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for the flying permit in April last year but could get it only late last year.
On December 18, Vistara announced the launch of its operations from January 9 with flights from Delhi to Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
Vistara, which has two leased A320s as of now, will operate 148-seater Airbus A320-200 with 16 seats in business class, 36 in premium economy and 96 in economy, on these routes.
The airline plans to operate flights from its Delhi base to Goa, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Srinagar, Jammu and Patna in the first year.
It plans to operate 87 flights in the first year, with five leased Airbus A-320s, and then scale it up to 301 flights by the fourth year with a fleet of A320s.