Vistara – the TATA-SIA Joint Venture started flights to Sharjah, UAE today. The flights are being operated as part of the air bubble between India and the United Arab Emirates. In normal circumstances, the airline may have overlooked operating to Sharjah. The premium carrier is well suited to operate to Dubai – with carriers operating to Sharjah only for cheaper operational cost, slots and in most cases lack of bilateral rights to Dubai. Vistara has been lucky to get rights to Dubai – after Jet Airways suspended operations.
Vistara launched operations to Dubai on August 22, 2019. In March 2020, all international flights were suspended in and out of India as the country headed into a lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic.
With the air bubble in place, Vistara joined all other carriers to launch flights to Dubai from multiple destinations from India. However, a dispute between the authorities on deployment of seats to Dubai has led to scaling down of operations from the Indian side, across airlines.
This unlikely event has led to Vistara looking at Sharjah – a destination otherwise not considered a probable destination for a premium carrier. The flights from Delhi will operate Daily with the A320neo aircraft at below timings
UK267 DEL0230 – 0500SHJ
UK268 SHJ0600 – 1135DEL
Later this week, the airline will ramp up services to Sharjah with addition of flights from Mumbai. The Mumbai service will be operational from January 24, 2021 and would also operate Daily.
UK253 BOM1640 – 1830SHJ
UK254 SHJ1930 – 0015(+1)BOM
Vistara will join AirIndia Express, Go Air and IndiGo – which are also operating flights to Sharjah. Sharjah has a population of over 1.5 million and a substantial number of Indians stay at Sharjah. The ever changing regulations around RT-PCR along with quarantine guidelines at both country of origin and destination has made planning a tough job for airlines.
It needs to be seen if Sharjah will continue as the airline’s destination when things normalize and the air bubble concept is dissolved or will the airline stick to Dubai as its point of choice in the UAE.