NEW DELHI – Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) Indian venture has shelved plans to start direct flights to the United States following disruptions in deliveries of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
“We were discussing the US at one stage,” Vistara chief executive Vinod Kannan said at a virtual press meeting on Tuesday. “We have had to put that on hold after the fact that the 787s are going to be interspersed and not coming in at the same time.”
Vistara, a joint venture between SIA and India’s Tata Group, is expecting to induct its remaining four Dreamliners by March 2024, Mr Kannan said. While the first of those four jets will be delivered by April, Vistara is waiting for clarity from Boeing on the exact delivery timeline.
Boeing got the green light from US regulators to restart deliveries of 787 jets in August.
While the jetliner’s deliveries were largely paused in late 2020 after flaws were discovered, the concerns were not viewed as a safety hazard, and airlines were allowed to continue operating their existing 787s.
Vistara will rejig its plans to operate only routes that require fewer aircraft, covering cities such as London, Paris and Frankfurt, Mr Kannan said. The airline will add frequencies and connect those international destinations to other parts of India, perhaps Mumbai.
Operating daily flights from India to the US is “resource consuming” and, for Vistara, the staggered deliveries of 787 jets will create a “big gap” in the wide-body aircraft it needs to fly to the destination, Mr Kannan said.
The airline currently has three 787 aircraft in its fleet, and one of them is a used plane that is on lease for three years.
Vistara, which broke even for the first time in the quarter including December, aided by the expansion of its international network, will be merging with Air India as Tata plans to revamp its faltering aviation business.
Air India’s top advantage among local carriers is that it operates non-stop flights to the US without having to transit in the Middle East. BLOOMBERG