Monday, October 01, 2018

We want to be a global full-service carrier: Leslie Thng

As one of the youngest airlines in an increasingly competitive industry, Vistara has managed to stand out by refusing to be seen as a low-cost carrier. A joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines (SIA),  which was launched in 2015, the airline now plans to fly international.

We met the CEO of the company, Leslie Thng, and asked him what’s next for Vistara. Thng, an SIA veteran moved to India to head the airline last year. Edited excerpts:
What were your priorities when you took over as the CEO of Vistara in October last year?

One of the key goals when I joined this airline was to go international as soon as possible…To scale up the operations of the carrier for both domestic and international so that we can bring the brand Vistara, which has been well accepted by Indian passengers, into the overseas market so that we progress to become a renowned global airline.

Is break-even a priority for you right now, given that the company is still relatively new?

Of course, break-even is a priority for every company. We know that we are operating in a highly competitive market. In the past three years, we have been able to achieve a better financial performance year-on-year although we are not yet profitable. When you look at the whole competitive landscape, the vision for the company is not just domestic but to also commence international operations. That is where, we believe, lie a lot of opportunities for an Indian carrier.

Will your international network be very different from that of Singapore Airlines or will you get some benefits of SIA?

Our travel pattern, the demand, the population size that we cater to, is very different [from SIA]. We want to be a global full-service carrier, which means that Vistara will have to fly to many countries around the world. Southeast Asia will be one regions that Vistara will fly to. Other regions that we may look at are countries in North Asia and Europe.

So all this is going to be very different from SIA because it is an airline based out of Singapore using their strengths to offer travel opportunities, whereas we are a carrier based out of India, offering travel options to Indian travelers to many parts of the world. We will also like to get fliers from the other side, be it NRIs or other foreign nationalities, to fly with us.
01/10/18 Purba Das and Arnika Thakur/Fortune India

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