On Monday, the Tata Group, in partnership with Singapore Airlines, announced its second venture aimed at the overcrowded Indian skies with the launch of ‘Vistara’ — a full service airline that is expected to start its operations by October 2014.
Headquartered in Delhi, the company will take the delivery of its first plane in September and hopes to have five planes by the end of the year. It will increase its fleet strength to 20 by the end of the fifth year of its operation.
The launch of the new carrier comes at a time when a majority of domestic airlines are bleeding and Kingfisher Airlines, with a Rs 7,000-crore debt burden, had to shut its operations.
“We are in the last lap of the process of securing the Air Operator Permit and there are a series of approvals which we have to get to the satisfaction of DGCA,” said Phee Teik Yeoh, CEO, Tata Singapore Airlines Limited (TSAL), while stating that Vistara may begin its operations in October.
After two unsuccessful attempts to form a joint venture with Singapore Airlines over two decades, the Tata Group succeeded in its third attempt in October 2013 after it received the FIPB approval for the joint venture company TSAL. This came a year after the government allowed overseas airlines to pick up a stake of up to 49 per cent in domestic carriers in September 2012.
In 2013, the Group made two announcements towards its foray into the aviation business. While it announced the purchase of 30 per cent stake in AirAsia in early 2013, it joined hands with the Singapore Airlines to form TSAL towards the end of 2013.
The largest Indian conglomerate, however, clearly seems to be putting its weight behind its full service airline where it holds a 51 per cent stake. According to information filed with the corporate affairs ministry, the new company was incorporated on November 5 with a total paid up capital of Rs 5 lakh and has been registered in New Delhi. The venture entails an initial investment of $100 million.