SIA joint venture Vistara shelves plan to fly to US on 787 delivery delays

Vistara will rejig its plans to operate routes that require only fewer aircraft, such as London, Paris and Frankfurt. - Reuters

NEW DELHI (Bloomberg):- Singapore Airlines Ltd.’s Indian venture has shelved plans to start direct flights to the US following disruptions in deliveries of Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

"We were discussing US at one stage,” Vistara Chief Executive Officer Vinod Kannan said at a virtual press meet Tuesday (Jan 24).

"We have had to put that on hold after the fact that 787s are going to be interspersed and not coming in at the same time.”

Vistara, a joint venture between the Tata Group and Singapore Air, is expecting to induct its remaining four Dreamliners by March 2024, he 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, Kannan said.

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 weren’t viewed as a safety hazard and airlines were allowed to continue operating their existing 787s.

Vistara will rejig its plans to operate routes that require only fewer aircraft such as London, Paris and Frankfurt, he said. The airline will add frequencies and connect those international destinations to other parts of India, perhaps Mumbai, he said.

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 widebody aircraft it needs to fly to the destination, 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, he said.

Vistara, which broke even for the first time in the quarter through December, aided by the expansion of its international network, will be merging with Air India Ltd. 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.

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