Domestic carrier Vistara is planning to acquire aircraft from the fleet of Jet Airways to support its expansion on international routes. As part of Tata Group's plan to bolster its aviation business, the airline is planning to acquire 16 planes from Jet's now-grounded fleet, reports suggest.
Vistara, a joint venture between Tata Group and Singapore airlines, might take over 10 Boeing 777s, at least three single-aisle Boeing 737s, and also a few wide-body Airbus A330 planes, the Business Standard reported. Tata Group will discuss the acquisition plan with its aviation business soon, the report said.
Vistara will use the acquired aircraft for launching long-haul international flights to Europe and North America, the daily added. This will be a change of pace for the full-service carrier, which earlier intended to launch international flights on short-haul routes first, and then gradually upscale to medium and long-haul routes. A reason behind this could be the new opportunities that have emerged after Jet grounded operations.
After flag carrier Air India, Jet Airways was the only airline which offered direct flights to Europe and North America. With Jet out of the picture and Air India's continued financial woes, Vistara might be planning to move ahead with the launch of long-haul flights to capture the space that has opened up in the segment.
Acquiring Boeing 777s from Jet Airways could help Vistara expedite its plans for long-haul flights to Europe as they will come with their own pilots, crew and maintenance staff. This will allow Vistara to put them into operation right away.
Acquiring more planes, however, could increase troubles for the Tata group-led airline. With increase in aviation fuel prices, the cash burn for an expanded fleet will be high. Adding more aircraft also pose the challenge of managing a varied fleet before Vistara.
Earlier, in accordance to its original plans, Vistara had ordered six Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which will be inducted only from January 2020. The order was kept small as there were limited slots and parking bays, the report said. As the scenario changed with Jet's downfall, Vistara urged Boeing to fast track the delivery of the 787, but without success, it added.
This forced Vistara to consider Boeing 777 planes, 10 of which it is planning to acquire from Jet Airways fleet. Jet's Boeing 777 aircraft were financed by a consortium of foreign lenders and Export and Import Bank of US (US). EXIM had threatened to repossess the aircraft after the debt-laden air carrier failed to repay its loans. But Indian banks offered to pay Rs 400 crore to the bank in exchange of ownership of five Jet Airways aircraft.