Sunday, September 02, 2018

There is a need to develop India as global aviation hub: Vistara CEO Leslie Thng

Having inducted its 22nd aircraft on Saturday, Tata-Singapore Airlines’ Indian joint-venture Vistara plans to start its international operations later this year becoming the sixth carrier from the country to fly abroad. In a conversation here, Vistara’s CEO Leslie Thng told The Indian Express that India has a potential for becoming a hub for international travel and there was need to develop accordingly. He also spoke about the airline’s plans for the domestic market, where it looks to tap a market it was hitherto elusive of by offering a more cost-effective product. Edited excerpts:
Vistara has listed out a plan to begin flying international to destinations such as Sri Lanka, Maldives, Thailand and other neighbouring countries. For most of these, the billateral rights are fully occupied. Are you looking at other destinations beyond these?

First of all, we are planning to start international operations before the end of this year as I have said earlier. The process has been initiated before the DGCA and the Ministry of Civil Aviation. There are enough places where we could to. We are looking at places where rights are available. It is beyond this list. This is just a part of the initial plan. We have 22 aircraft at this moment and they will be required to fulfill domestic operations so we won’t be able to go to too many places internationally. As we induct more aircraft, we are looking at places where rights are available and when we are able to announce that you’ll get to know.

How do you plan to leverage your Singapore Airlines connection for your interanational plans?

Singapore Airlines is based in Southeast Asia. But even with the new aircraft that we are bringing in, our goal is not just to Southeast Asia. Our goal is to be a global airline, which means more than just Southeast Asia. We can look at Europe, the US. When we fly to Southeast Asia for example, Singapore Airline being a very strong airline there, would be able to give us cooperation in terms of giving us more opportunities to sell other destinations where Vistara wouldn’t be able to fly non-stop. If we fly to Europe, we will have to look for some other partners as well. And Singapore Airlines is not strong there.
02/09/18 Pranav Mukul/Indian Express