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Passengers booking tickets 3-4 weeks in advance, as in pre-COVID times: Vistara CEO Vinod Kannan

The team that created brand Vistara and ensured quality services will be needed to maintain them after the merger with Air India, Kannan said.

March 21, 2023 / 03:54 PM IST

Indian air passengers are returning to pre-COVID behaviour in both domestic and international travel, booking tickets three to four weeks in advance instead of at the last minute, said Vinod Kannan, chief executive officer of Vistara.

Quality services key

Referring to the phasing out of the Vistara brand after the airline’s merger with Air India, Kannan said he is optimistic about maintaining the brand through its quality and service standards.

“We want to assure that our passengers still experience a quality product when flying with Vistara. The airline is focused on providing quality processes, hospitality, and customer care to passengers,” Kannan told Moneycontrol at the CAPA India Summit.

Air India, which the Tata Group acquired in January 2022, and Vistara had announced a merger in November last year. Vistara is a 51:49 joint venture of Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines. As part of the merger, Singapore Airlines will invest Rs 2,059 crore in Air India. Once the transaction is complete, Singapore Airlines will hold 25.1 percent in Air India.

Kannan said that even after the merger, operations will not be shifted to anything sub-par. He said the team that helped create brand Vistara and ensured quality services will be needed to maintain services in the future.

Vistara's regional routes and flights to Europe are doing well and passengers are encouraged by the quality of services provided, he said.

“The Indian diaspora was key to making the Vistara brand known globally and we will continue to provide quality services to our customers,” Kannan said.

Expansion Plan of Vistara

The Vistara chief said the airline plans to increase the proportion of international operations to 40 percent as long as it operates independently. He added that Vistara continues to assess demand and evaluate new routes.

The Air India-Vistara merger is estimated to be completed by March 2024.

Vistara currently flies to 14 overseas destinations – Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, Colombo, Dammam, Dhaka, Dubai, Frankfurt, Jeddah, Kathmandu, London Heathrow, Male, Muscat, Paris and Singapore.

Domestic Airfares and merger with Air India

Kannan said domestic ticket pricing is market-driven and Indian customers are now willing to pay more to travel.

The Tata Group has started consolidating its airline business under Air India. Last month, Air India and Vistara announced that Air India will discontinue the Vistara brand on completion of its merger with Tata SIA Airlines, the operator of Vistara.

Air India is working with external parties to figure out opportunities in the integration between the two full-service carriers, the focus areas, and what the end product will look like once regulatory and other approvals are received.

The airline is seeking regulatory clearances from agencies such as the Competition Commission of India.

Yaruqhullah Khan