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Vistara can now fly overseas

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Nod was delayed for a year over the AirAsia India probe

The Tata-Singapore joint venture airline Vistara has been granted permission to fly overseas, according to Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Pradeep Singh Kharola.

The airline had applied for regulatory approvals early last year, but a nod from the government was delayed over an investigation against AirAsia India for allegedly lobbying and bribing officials to acquire permission to fly overseas. This led to the government forming an inter-ministerial committee to take a final decision on the matter.

“We are closely working with the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Specific details will be shared at an appropriate time,” a spokesperson of the airline said in a statement.

The airline’s CEO Leslie Thng had earlier spoken about starting short-haul international flights to the Gulf and the southeast Asian regions with its A320 Neo planes and then progressing to medium-haul and long-haul flights.

To meet its international ambitions, the airline, earlier this year, entered into a deal with Airbus and Boeing for 13 A320 neo aircraft and six B787-9 Dreamliners.

Revisiting destinations

Industry insiders say that the delay in getting permissions may force the airline to revisit the destinations it will serve. “Initially, the airline had plans to connect high value leisure destinations such as Kathmandu, Colombo and Phuket from its Delhi hub. But in the past six months, some of these destinations have been serviced by non-stop operations of GoAir and Indigo [i.e. Phuket and Male],” said aviation expert Manish Raniga.

The airline’s strategy and planning team would typically re-evaluate their position and assess whether certain city pairs are big enough to be served by low-cost carriers and full-service carriers. It could still look at other destinations in South-East Asia and China as well as serving Singapore through its partnership with Singapore Airlines, Mr. Raniga said.

He added that to enable the airline to serve destinations such as Dubai, the government would have to open up bilateral rights, despite pressure from certain Indian carriers not to do so as it could lead to proliferation of Gulf carriers.

“It is a Catch-22, between allowing the Indian market to grow, and protecting the interest of Indian carriers. But the government has shown its willingness to open discussions if Indian carriers have exhausted its allocation and require more seats,” Mr. Raniga said.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 8:23:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/vistara-can-now-fly-overseas/article26525013.ece

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