Confirming that the Vistara-Air India merger is on track, Goh Choon Phong, CEO of Singapore Airlines (SIA), said that the entity is looking forward to participating and directly contributing to the Indian travel market. At present, SIA holds a 49 per cent stake in Vistara and once the merger is complete, it will have a 25.1 per cent stake in Air India.

“India is a very high-growth country. It is going to be the largest economy in the world. It is the largest travel market with a lot of potential. We would like to participate directly and contribute to its growth,” said Phong at a select media briefing in Singapore, adding: “If everything goes according to plan when all of the approvals are received, we will end up owning 25.1 per cent of Air India. So, that is what has been announced and the agreement between the partners.”

Commenting on the decision to set up Vistara and the upcoming merger, he said Vistara as an entity is something that SIA’s partners and consumers are proud of. The airline was founded in 2013 as a joint venture (JV) between Tata Sons and SIA. “We set up Vistara 10 years ago. Of course, before that, we have been discussing with partners. It is not something that we had a short-term view of. It is a strategic long-term investment.

“Vistara is something we have created with our partners, that we believe both our partners and our consumers in India will be proud of,” he said, adding: “And when we merge with Air India, we can then look at ways of contributing towards building that [experience] for Air India,” he added.

SIA net profit

SIA recently posted a net profit $1.03 million for H1 FY24, 24 per cent higher than its H1 FY23 net profit, making it one of the global players to quickly recover from pandemic losses. Commenting on the pre-pandemic travel demands, Goh said SIA Group hopes to return to pre-pandemic levels in terms of passenger numbers by FY25.

The writer is in Singapore at the invitation of Singapore Airlines