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Tata-SIA joint venture 'Vistara' to start operations in October

Published on Aug 11, 2014 6:34 PM
Tata-SIA Airlines Limited (TSAL) has announced that the much-anticipated brand name of its new airline will be Vistara. -- PHOTO: SIA

NEW DELHI - Tata-SIA Airlines Limited (TSAL) has announced that the much-anticipated brand name of its new airline will be Vistara.

Vistara, derived from a Sanskrit word meaning “limitless expanse”, will be a joint venture based in New Delhi, and is expected to start operations in October, 2014, according to a statement by TSAL. 

The airlines will take delivery of its first plane in September and plans to increase its fleet to 20 aircraft by the end of the fifth year of operation. It aims to transform the air traveller’s experience with an obsession for quality, TSAL statement added.

“In every aspect of customer engagement, the airline will treat travellers as unique individuals and delight them with intuitive thoughtfulness,” it said.

“Vistara will redefine the way we travel in India,” said Mr Prasad Menon, Chairman of TSAL, on Monday. “I can confidently say that Tata’s and SIA’s legendary hospitality standards and service excellence will make Vistara a natural choice for passengers,” he said.

This is Singapore Airlines (SIA) third attempt to crack the Indian market. Previous attempts by the SIA-Tata team to bid for the Indian travel market were thwarted by fierce political opposition and local carriers crying foul.

But, after years of shutting out foreign carriers and investment, India did a U-turn in 2012, passing a new law that allows foreign airlines to take equity stakes of up to 49 per cent in local carriers. In 2013, the proposal for SIA to take a 49 per cent stake, with Tata absorbing the remaining 51 per cent, was approved by India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board.

“We have received very good response from both the Indian public and the authorities so we have no reason at this point in time not to believe that it will take off,” SIA chief executive officer Mr Goh Choon Phong had said at the time.

With 430 million Indians aged between 15 and 34 and a middle-class population expected to hit 550 million by 2025, the demand for travel is high and will continue to soar.
Aviation experts warn about the tough operating conditions in the subcontinent, which include high taxes and poor infrastructure. But, SIA, which also has a 20 per cent stake in Virgin Australia, believes it can succeed in India.

“By no means do we think this is going to be a walk in the park.... We don’t take the challenges lightly, of course, but if we were not confident we could make it work, we would not be there,” Mr Goh had said.