Vistara – the TATA-SIA joint venture which launched operations in January 2015 has announced its maiden international destination. The airline will start International operations from 6th August 2019 with flights to Singapore from Delhi. The airline will connect Mumbai to Singapore from the next day.
The flights will be operated by the B737-800s which earlier served Jet Airways
UK115 DEL2345 – 0815(+1)SIN D
UK116 SIN0930 – 1245DEL D
UK105 BOM2355 – 0815(+1)SIN D
UK106 SIN1030 – 1355BOM D
The airline will operate flights from Terminal 3 at Singapore Changi Airport.
The B737s of Jet Airways seem to have come as a blessing in disguise for the airline as the relatively higher Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of the B737s over the A320s of Vistara help the airline cover the longer distance between to Singapore at ease and with full loads.
The Confusion & PaxEx
The airline now operates aircraft in multiple configurations and types. A320 in three-class configuration, A320 in mono class and B737-800 in dual class configurations. For a small fleet of less than 30 planes, that’s a lot of differentiation for the market to understand, especially after spending time in taking the premium economy class to the market and making it aware.
There now remains a case where the three-class configuration operates on domestic routes and dual class configuration which are older planes of Jet Airways without any upgrade of seats flying the flagship international routes.
This may be a stop-gap arrangement but not the best foot forward when starting international routes.
The B737s are configured in 12 Business class and 156 economy class seats, as compared to 8 Business, 24 Premium Economy and 132 economy class seats on the standard Vistara A320s. There is a lot more to this than just the configuration. Boeing has a 17-inch seat in economy, while Airbus has 18inch seats, which will have an impact on passenger experience. While all of the three-class A320s of Vistara have Vistara World.
There is no row 13 on the A320s which Vistara took via lessors but were factory fresh. However, the all economy A320 which it took later has a row 13, whereas the B737s do not have row 13, 18-21, 32-33 and row 42.
Singapore would have been the first destination for Vistara in the most ideal scenario. However, with the bilateral rights restricted, it would have been difficult for the airline to start operations to Singapore. The fall of Jet Airways has helped the airline get the rights needed to start operations.
The airline will be able to get incremental passengers from the partnership with Singapore Airlines and seamless transfer.
The bilateral rights restrict the seats to nearly 30,000 seats per week from the metro cities with open skies to 18 destinations in India. Singapore Airlines has maxed out on the allocation to India and adjust capacity based on seasonality-based demand. Indian side had also maxed out, until the fall of Jet Airways.
Subject to approvals, the airline is likely to have a network which will be very similar to initial days of IndiGo network – Kathmandu, Bangkok, Singapore, Dubai, also, the network which Kingfisher Airlines had. While air traffic has grown leaps and bounds in the last few years, the risk free destinations for airlines to launch international flights have remained the same.
The airline will go great lengths to differentiate itself on the service front. On the hard product front, the experience on the A320s would be superior than those of the dated B737s which the airline has currently inducted.
The circumstances leading up to the induction of the B737s were unique but now that these types and sub types are inducted, the airline must strive hard to offer a similar experience. Passengers were smart to know which routes are getting the Air Deccan aircraft post the Kingfisher – Air Deccan merger and likewise with Jet Airways – Air Sahara merger. If the dates product on the B737s is not liked by the market, due to experience gap on the hard product, passengers may quickly move over.
One wonders if the Premium economy will disappear from narrow-body and be restricted only to wide-body. For now, it seems the grip that the airline was getting of the market has suddenly become haphazard due to the product mix and next two years will decide the airline’s future growth and product stability.