India’s full-service carrier Vistara received its first Dreamliner almost two years ago, in February 2020. While the COVID pandemic and delays by the FAA may have altered some of its 787 plans, overall, the airline is satisfied with the airplane’s performance so far. In an exclusive interview with Simple Flying, Vistara COO Vinod Kannan spoke about the airline’s strategy and plans regarding the Dreamliners. Here’s what we know so far.
Vistara received its first 787-9 Dreamliner around the same time when COVID-19 was spreading roots across the world. However, Vistara remained committed to its long-haul expansion strategy despite the pandemic and deployed its 787s to destinations such as Tokyo, London, and more recently, Paris.
Had there been no delays by the FAA, Vistara probably would have received all six of its Dreamliners by now and, in all probability, would have started US operations. But it’s putting the two 787s in its fleet hard at work and squeezing the maximum out of them. Speaking with Simple Flying, Mr Kannan said,
“On the long-haul front of the 787, yes we would have hoped to have inducted all the six aircraft on order – if everything had gone according to plan – by sometime now. But that has changed. We now have 2 of the 6 aircraft in our fleet which are working very hard to fly into Europe, including Paris.”
Happy with the performance
Vistara chose the -9 variant of 787 because of its range and comfort. With the aircraft operating for a year and a half, how has it fared in terms of operations, economics, and passenger feedback?
Mr Kannan feels that the 787 has worked very well for Vistara so far, and all the features onboard and the services rendered have come together quite nicely. He pointed out that Vistara’s 787s are equipped with WiFi and IFE – features required for long-haul flights – and so the general feedback from passengers has been quite good.
He also feels that the airplane has had a good run so far in terms of operations and economics, saying,
“We’ve also seen that the aircraft is very reliable, of course it’s very new but we’ve had a good run thus far. At the same time the other positive step by deploying the Dremaliners is that we are also able to operate quite efficiently to some of the biggest and key points in the world. Not just from an operating perspective but also economically because it is an efficient aircraft as compared to some of the others.”
The next big international destination on Vistara’s list is, of course, the US. While the airline has received the DOT permission to fly to the US, the lack of more Dreamliners has halted the plans. The airline expects further delay in the 787’s delivery and is in touch with the relevant authorities to get more clarity.
But Vistara still has a network plan in place for all six of its 787s. The carrier wants to tap into significant demand flows from and into India and take advantage of passengers’ preference for non-stop flights in light of the pandemic. Mr Kannan added,
“We see all these as opportunities and therefore those plans still remain. It’s more a question of when they will come about rather than if.”
Here’s hoping that Vistara receives its remaining 787s sooner rather than later so passengers have more options of flying in and out of India.