Airlines around the world are in talks with Boeing and Airbus to delay the delivery of new aircraft coming on stream, and the situation is no different in India.
Vistara confirms ‘revised’ delivery schedule for new Dreamliners
Vistara, the Singapore Airlines-Tata Group joint venture airline, confirmed to us that it is working with Boeing on a “revised delivery schedule” for its forthcoming Boeing 787-9s that will be used on long-haul routes.
The airline already has one Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (the only such plane in the Indian market), plus has letters of intent to order five more of the wide-body jets, originally expected to be delivered between 2020 and 2021.
That deal was announced in July 2018, along with letters of intent to order 13 Airbus A320neo family aircraft. At list prices, the new Boeing and Airbus jets are worth more than USD 3billion - though Vistara would surely have negotiated a discount.
Its letter of intent with Boeing also includes purchase rights for four further 787s.
At the time, Vistara chief executive Leslie Thng said: “India’s position as the world’s fastest growing domestic aviation market and its impressive growth in air passenger traffic that has more than doubled over the last decade, makes us confident of our aggressive plans for domestic expansion and international foray.”
Vistara also returning ex-Jet Airways aircraft
The Delhi-based carrier is also reported to be speeding up the process of handing back leased short-haul Boeing aircraft previously in service with Jet Airways.
In a statement today, a Vistara spokesman told us:
"Most of our Boeing 737-800NG aircraft were anyway on short-term lease. Of the existing seven, one is being returned to the lessor this week and the remainder will phase out in due course. We are reviewing options. Our second 787-9 Dreamliner was due for delivery in March 2020, which naturally got delayed in the current circumstances. We are now working with Boeing on the revised delivery schedule but we remain confident of the potential of long haul, direct international routes."
According to its website, Vistara’s current fleet comprises 33 Airbus A320, one Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and seven Boeing 737-800NG aircraft.
Vistara’s moves to delay delivery of its forthcoming Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners are no surprise considering that airlines around the world find themselves in a similar position, as demand for air travel (and the associated revenue) falls in the wake of coronavirus.
With a couple of Dreamliners, Vistara could get its long-haul flying programme started in earnest - if there’s just one, however, things look more tricky.
While they could just about fly to Tokyo or London and back in a day with a single Boeing 787-9, they would have no other wide-body aircraft to rely on if their sole Dreamliner had technical issues.
Vistara is a great airline (we’ve had a good experience in business class) and we wish them all the best for their future long-haul flights!