Friday, May 14, 2021

Why airlines in India might prefer widebody aircraft post pandemic

After launching flights to London and Frankfurt, Vistara is cashing in on people wanting to travel non-stop, rather than on one- or two-stop flights. The joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines has announced the launch of a once-a- week flight between Delhi and Haneda airport in Tokyo from June 6, using the Boeing 787-9 aircraft. It will offer business, premium economy and economy class seatings.

At the moment, Air India is the only Indian carrier which has 47 long-haul aircraft, and is offering non-stop flights under air bubbles to the US, Canada, Australia and other continents.

Among aviation circles, it is widely expected that people will like to travel to the US, Australia, Canada, Europe and Africa without waiting at intermediate destinations in the Gulf like Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi or European destinations like London, Paris and Frankfurt.

Seamless connectivity means airlines will have to make sure they have the aircraft that can fly long distances non-stop. Else, they would need what are called wide-body aircraft.

Among Indian carriers, Vistara is in a slightly better position as it has two Boeing 787-9 aircraft, which can do non-stop long-haul flights like its new flight to Tokyo.

Air India and Vistara are, however, exceptions as the Indian aviation market is dominated by low-cost carriers (LCCs). Their fleet largely consists of narrow-body aircraft like the various versions of the Boeing 737 or the Airbus A320.

These single-aisle aircraft, or narrow-body aircraft, are typically flown on routes within India or connect India with countries in South-East Asia like Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia or in South Asia like Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives  -- destinations within 4-5 hours of flying time.

13/05/21 Ashwini Phadnis/

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