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How does it feel to fly into Bangkok?
We are very happy to have Bangkok as our third international destination, after Singapore and Dubai, which were all launched in August. What is more interesting for us at Vistara is that we’ve just started our international expansion, and do have big plans going forward regarding which part of the world or region we’d like to fly to.
What’s in store for Vistara in the near future?
Even though at the moment we have only three international destinations, we launched all three in a space of three weeks, which is a big achievement for all of us at Vistara. In the past three months, we have also expanded a lot on the domestic front, especially our expanded operations at Mumbai. At the moment we have 31 aircrafts. By December 2019, we will add another 10. The new acquisitions will consist of one Boeing 737 and nine Airbus 320 Neos.
We have also taken over some Boeing 737s which were formerly being flown by Jet Airways. The year 2020 will see Vistara achieving an important milestone, as we introduce a widebody aircraft into our fleet. This will be the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. We’ll use it for medium- to long-haul flights, probably from Delhi or Mumbai. This will help Vistara to operate to Europe from next year. The other region that interests us is north Asia.
In the next phase, we plan to fly to the US and Australia non-stop. We ultimately want Vistara to become the airline of choice for Indians wanting to travel non-stop anywhere in the world. Until then, we continue to partner with other airlines to provide onward connectivity. We have entered into codeshare partnerships with United Airlines, British Airways and Japan Airlines. This might give you an indication of our future destinations.
What can one look forward to on the Vistara Dreamliner?
On the Boeing 787 Dreamliner we feel that the product we have selected will be the best in India as well as comparable to many global international airlines. This will include the cabin product, the in-flight entertainment, as well as on-board connectivity.
Don’t you feel the India-Bangkok sector is saturated? Do you still see potential here?
We always thought Bangkok was going to be a destination for Vistara. If you look at the statistics, the number of Indians coming to Thailand, especially Bangkok, has been increasing. So we feel that we will be able to grow together with the market. Also, with the increase of Indian customers coming to Thailand, what Vistara will bring to the market is an Indian airline that is able to provide Indian hospitality as well as curate in-flight services and F&B catering to the Indian consumer. That’s where we see our place in the market. For Indians travelling to Bangkok, for business or leisure purposes, Vistara will be able to provide choice. We are also the only airline on this sector providing the ‘premium economy’ product. The free visa on arrival currently being provided by Thailand is also boosting demand.
What about the F&B offerings?
We are very mindful of our customer profile. The majority, at least in the beginning, will be Indian customers. So we’ll offer in-flight food that will appeal to them. The strength of Vistara also lies in being flexible in making changes depending on what the market desires.
Are you hopeful of filling up your business class seats on this sector?
There is definitely a market for it, and with just eight business class seats in the aircraft, they are quite easy to fill.
Do you see your flights boosting inbound travel to India?
While our focus is primarily on the Indian consumer, we would also like Thai and Singaporean tourists to use our services to visit India and discover it as a destination. We hope that is a demand we can tap on.
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