Tata-Singapore Air's 'Vistara' won't take off before year-end

Vistara, the joint airline venture between the Tata Group and Singapore Airlines, will have to wait longer than it expected before it can take to the Indian skies.

The new airline had scheduled its launch for October; but it has still to obtain a flying permit, for which it needs to clear two steps - the 'demonstration phase' and five proving flights, under rules of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

The first phase refers to the airline demonstrating its preparedness for emergency situations like fire on flight, landing on water, etc.

The second phase refers to a practical demonstration by the airline that the documented procedures and systems previously inspected can work together in real time to produce a safe operation.

Since Vistara's first aircraft will only arrive this month, it is difficult to finish both these procedures by October. Moreover, the aircraft will have to be painted with Vistara's colours and logo, which also takes time.

Thus, reports say the airline may get airborne only by the end of the year.

The airline did not offer comments on a possible delay, with a spokesperson merely saying "Vistara is working very closely with the regulator to ensure all requisite requirements and processes are being complied with. As regards market speculation, we would not like to comment on the same.''

Vistara is a 51:49 joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines. Though Vistara has not divulged which cities it will initially cover, reports say it will focus on connecting large cities like Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Delhi.

A Vistara spokesperson had said earlier this week that bookings will be opened by the first week of October for the first flight through select travel agents and through the Vistara website. She had also said that a full schedule of the airline will be published in the next few days. But this schedule is unlikely to be met.

The airline is expected to offer two-and-a-half class configurations across its flights - economy, premium economy, and business class. What remains to be seen is whether it will offer cut-price tickets to join the current air-fare wars.