Vistara could start flying to London later this year

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 06, 2020 Published on July 06, 2020

On domestic flights, a passenger can buy two seats : CCO

Vistara could start operating regular commercial flights to the United Kingdom some time later this year, Vinod Kannan, Chief Commercial Officer, Vistara, said on Monday.

“From our perspective, we feel that somewhere towards the later part of the year, meaning the end of the year, we should be in a position to start these flights. But we will continue to review the demand and regulatory side,” he said while addressing a webinar.

Commenting on the existing situation, Kannan said that Vistara has started allowing passengers to book two seats in their name in case they are worried about their safety during the flight. “It will be charged like any other seat. It is actually the same price. We are looking at providing some kind of incentive like a discount that is something which is in the works,” he added.

He, however, added that getting back to 100 per cent of Vistara’s domestic operations will take at least a few more months. He is also of the view that things might not come back to normalcy till Diwali.

“It is a function of different States opening up as well. Just over the weekend, Kolkata stopped some flights from different States. It is also a function of how the infection goes in the country and confidence returns,” he pointed out.

The airline is currently operating 25 to 30 per cent of its flights or about 35 to 40 daily flights. “There are days when we do more. We have seen that over the weekend demand is stronger so it can go up to 45 to 50 flights. Yesterday, we did close to 50 flights,” he said adding that about a third of the airline’s fleet is currently being used.

The airline has rejigged its network as demand is higher from secondary cities and started a new Mumbai to Patna flight.

Travel insurance, fares

Kannan also said that travel insurance was an area that the airline was looking at. “We do not currently offer it on the website but that is something we are looking at. The fact is also that travel insurance is not that prevalent when it comes to domestic travel compared to international,” he said.

In response to a question on whether the government’s decision to cap domestic fares at the upper and lower level was hurting the airline, he said, “probably not given the demand. But on specific routes where we are forced to sell even the last seat at a capped fare level… probably we could have sold it for more. There is some opportunity there. But by and large if you look at the number of passengers travelling on each flight at the moment probably not.”

Vistara also wants to add more flights on certain routes but it cannot do so due to restrictions on number of flights from Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai or Kolkata. “Different reasons but I think it will take some time before we get to the 45 per cent,” he added.

The government recently enhanced domestic flying to 45 per cent of what was being flown earlier from the 33 per cent allowed when domestic flying restarted on May 25 .

Kannan confirmed that the airline is also looking at some delivery delays in some of its aircraft.

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Published on July 06, 2020
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