Vistara announces new N-E routes to comply with govt norms

The Tatas-backed Vistara, the new airline in the Indian skies, announced on Tuesday that it will begin services on the Delhi-Guwahati-Bagdogra-Delhi route from 2 April.

The airline had earlier launched new services to Goa and Hyderabad from 20 February and 1 March respectively.

Vistara, which started in January with 68 weekly flights, expects to operate 164 flights a week by month-end.

The airline added that it will expand its fleet size to six aircraft by April and will soon announce the addition of more destinations. The airline currently has just five Airbus A-320 aircraft.

The JV airline between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines started commercial operations on 9 January.

Currently, domestic airlines which have an operational experience of five years and a minimum fleet of 20 aircraft in their fleet are allowed to start international operations.

The latest full-service airline, after state-run Air India and private carrier Jet Airways, Vistara currently operates across five domestic airports - New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Goa and Hyderabad, which are all high-density traffic airports for one reason or the other.

Vistara will operate daily services from 2 April connecting Delhi with Guwahati and Bagdogra, the airline said in a release today.

After a brief stop-over at Guwahati, the flight will proceed to Bagdogra, a gateway airport to several tourist destinations in the Northeast, the airline said.

"The addition of this route reaffirms our commitment to promote regional connectivity. We are very happy to expand our operations to both Guhawati and Bagdogra," the release quoted Vistara chief executive, Phee Teik Yeoh, as saying.

Vistara launched its services on 9 January this year with flight services to Mumbai and Ahmedabad from its base, New Delhi.

The airline currently has five Airbus A320 planes in its fleet and plans to induct one more by April.

Vistara, which has 51 per cent holding of the Tata Group with the rest lying with Singapore Airlines, also plans to fly international.

However, the current regulations allow only those domestic carriers to fly abroad which have completed five years of local operations and have a fleet of 20 aircraft.

The government, while proposing to do away with this rule, has sought to link overseas operations with a policy on mandatory operations on regional and remote routes.

While Vistara along with new budget carrier AirAsia India wants the government to do away with such norms, the established players are opposing any such move on the grounds that domestic connectivity would suffer if the norms were abolished.