How much “SIAness” is in Vistara?

This interview with Mr Yeoh Phee Teik, CEO TATA Singapore Airlines was first published in Aspire Aviation.

Vistara is a full-service joint venture between Tata Sons Limited and Singapore Airlines (SIA) with Tata holding the majority stake of 51% and SIA the remaining 49%. Headquartered at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, Vistara took delivery of its first A320-200 aircraft on Sep 25, 2014. It plans to increase its fleet to 20 aircraft by the end of its fifth year of operation. The name Vistara is derived from the Sanskrit word “Vistaar” which means “limitless expanse”.

This is the third attempt by Tata and SIA at forging a partnership to tap into the Indian air market. They first attempted in 1995 to set up a domestic carrier but a change in Indian civil aviation policy preventing foreign participation scuttled the project. In 2000 they made a bid for a stake in Air India but the offer was later withdrawn.

Vistara expects to launch flights soon from Delhi to Mumbai, Ahmedabab and Bengaluru.

Q1: With two big names as parents in the field, success looks almost guaranteed. How do you see Vistara’s positioning in the competition and how different will it as an airline in its own right be from other airlines?

Courtesy TATA SIA Airlines

Courtesy TATA SIA Airlines

Yeoh: Vistara brings together Tata’s and SIA’s legendary hospitality and renowned service excellence. We aim to transform the air traveller’s experience and will ensure that travellers enjoy seamless experiences that shall set a new benchmark in terms of service, technology and processes. With an obsession for quality in every aspect of customer engagement, Vistara will treat travellers as unique individuals and delight them with intuitive thoughtfulness.

Q2: How much of “SIAness” will the traveller see in Vistara?

Yeoh: Leveraging the best traits of our parent brands, Vistara will establish new standards of service and transform the discerning air traveler’s experience. What makes a perfect partnership in this case is how SIA’s service excellence complements the Tata Group’s legendary hospitality. Our strategy and our unique product service differentiators are what will set us apart from others and will provide a refreshed and seamless flying experience to travelers in India.

Courtesy TATA SIA Airlines

Courtesy TATA SIA Airlines

SIA has grown over the years to become a brand recognized internationally as one of the world’s leading airlines with a strong customer centric focus. The Tata Group stands synonymous with trust and has been consistently credited with being ahead of the times. Vistara has a clear alignment with the ethos and values of TATA as well as SIA and their business practices. We will raise the bar for the industry by bringing in global best practices, out-of-the-box thinking and the best talent.

Q3: A new airline is apt to cite the growth potential that India presents. Yet history has shown that the stiff competition has driven a number of the upstarts to bankruptcy. What is your reading of this scenario?

Yeoh: As per the industry predictions, the aviation sector in India is going to take a positive turn. The new government has already begun taking steps in the right direction. We are optimistic about the new government’s investor friendly outlook which could potentially open up the Indian skies further.

Vistara_logo.svgQ4: Vistara in Sanskrit implies “limitless expanse”. What are your plans on expanding the network beyond India? How will your operations match those of SIA and its subsidiaries (SilkAir, Scoot and Tiger Airways)?

Yeoh: We have taken delivery of two of our aircrafts, Airbus A320-200. Vistara plans to increase its fleet to 20 aircraft, including A320neos, by the end of the fourth year of operation. We will be focusing on growing operations in cities where there is demand for a full-service airline. This will include metros and non-metros that have a large number of business and leisure travellers. We would like to fly international as and when we are allowed to, and when we do so, we are sure that there will be opportunities to integrate our operations with the SIA network.

Q5: Tata Sons is also in a domestic partnership with AirAsia. How do you explain the potential conflict in rival relationships? Are AirAsia and SIA comfortable with the arrangements?

Yeoh: We don’t see any conflict between Vistara and Air Asia as the Indian aviation sector has immense potential for growth.

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About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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