Vistara CEO says fleet to be increased to 70 planes in 2 years
Vistara plans to increase its fleet size to 70 aircraft within two years and add manpower to match the growth, CEO Vinod Kannan said on Tuesday.
“We will go from a 50-plane fleet to 70 by the end of 2023 and increase the manpower to run those planes,” Kannan said in an interview. On adding larger aircraft that will enable the airline to fly on medium and long-haul international routes, the CEO said Vistara expects to add four more Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and six Airbus A321s within the same time-frame. . It currently has two Boeing 787-9s and four A321s.
Since the end of 2020, Boeing has halted deliveries of Dreamliners due to manufacturing issues, which it is attempting to resolve with regulators. This has also affected Vistara’s international expansion plans. Vistara has asked Boeing about the number of Dreamliners this year, and is awaiting a response.
“The issue with Boeing has been a concern and we would have liked to go further as direct flights from India are gaining traction and we have seen good demand on our long-haul flights be it London, Frankfurt or Paris. This is a lost opportunity for us,” Mr Kannan said.
Vistara stepped into international flights in August 2019, just six months before the pandemic. Between 2020 and 2021, in addition to regional flights, the airline also introduced long-haul flights to London, Frankfurt, Paris and medium-haul flights to Tokyo, while travel restrictions hampered passenger demand. But as countries ease restrictions and summer approaches, carriers have an opportunity to take advantage of some of these new routes, especially with international flights that cost airlines more money than domestic ones. Known for making
Vistara currently has 25% of its capacity on international routes, and expects to take this to 30-35% by the end of this financial year. When asked about customer feedback on the lack of food options and discontinuation of hot beverages, the CEO said the services were curtailed due to the SOPs issued by the regulator as well as customer expectations from the interview. However, going forward, the airline plans to offer more dining options than it was before the start of the pandemic. The airline recently announced that it brought back non-vegetarian food in economy class and resumed serving tea and coffee, including at Starbucks.
In a recent letter to the airline’s customers, the CEO acknowledged the airline’s shortcomings and assured that the gap would be filled on a “war footing”.
Mr Kannan also said that there were “challenges in staffing” due to increased passenger demand between October and December last year, adding that the airline has sought ground handling personnel as well as customer care providers to improve passenger service. Recruitment had started.