Indian airlines are expanding their footprint globally. The full-service airline, Vistara, which is a joint venture between Singapore Airlines and Tata Sons, has announced a more than 100 percent increase in frequencies to and from Frankfurt and Paris to Delhi. This is because of the scheduled delivery of its third Boeing 787-9 aircraft sometime soon.
In a statement, the airline said that it is “gearing up to receive its third Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft which has been leased recently.” When contacted about this, the airline was unable to comment on the exact delivery date of the aircraft. Vistara has four more 787-9s on order with Boeing. The airframer is to resume Dreamliner deliveries on August 10, having received approval from the FAA on Monday to start them after a forced pause since May 2021 over production quality issues. Vistara said in April that it was exploring options to source more Dreamliners with lessors.
Vistara is looking to double its frequency on the Delhi-Frankfurt route to six from October 30 while Paris and the Indian capital will go up to five weekly services up from the current two weekly flights. Vistara will face severe competition on this route as Lufthansa and Air India fly direct daily while the Middle Eastern carriers have multiple frequencies into and out of major airports connecting to their hubs from where passengers can fly to Paris or Frankfurt.
Lufthansa, which has 42 weekly services from India including flying daily from Delhi to both Frankfurt and Munich, also connects to Germany from Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Chennai. In addition, Air India operates a daily return flight to Frankfurt and Paris Charles De Gaulle from Delhi.
Air India daily to Vancouver
Closer home to Vistara, Air India, another airline in the Tata fold, is looking to go daily between Delhi and Vancouver from August 31. It currently operates three times a week. The enhancement in frequency has been enabled by the return to service of the widebody Boeing 777-300ER (extended range) aircraft with a three-class configuration of First, Business, and Economy. Air Canada currently also operates from Delhi to Toronto with connections to Vancouver.
The first off the block is the low-cost airline, IndiGo which introduced a daily return flight between Mumbai and Bahrain earlier this month and is looking to link more cities from India with Bahrain from October. When the flight was launched, Sanjay Kumar, Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer IndiGo, said that the Bahrain flight was the first post-Covid international addition to the airline’s network.
Satyendra Pandey, Managing Partner of aviation advisory firm AT-TV, is of the view that all the airlines are launching new international routes or enhancing their frequencies for different reasons. “Frankfurt can be a good airport for Vistara to transfer passengers from India wanting to go to US, Europe and some points in Africa. The airline can also fly these passengers back to India. In IndiGo’s case, the airline can not only carry the labor traffic but also Formula 1 enthusiasts keen to see the races in Bahrain.”
The reasons why airlines are enhancing international flights from India are not difficult to understand. A recent study titled “Outbound travel and tourism – An opportunity untapped” by Nangia Andersen LLP in association with the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry states that outbound travel from India will surpass $42 billion by 2024 adding that the government could make certain policy changes to boost this growing market.