NEW DELHI: Amid rising oil prices, full service carrier Vistara’s chief Vinod Kannan on Tuesday emphasised that financial viability will be important in deciding on flying to new international destinations.
Vistara, which commenced its international operations less than three years ago, currently flies to 11 overseas destinations.
“For the remaining ones, I think it is really a matter of two things. One is air bubble arrangements will continue till when and when scheduled operations will start; secondly, financial viability.
“With fuel cost being higher, we have to review where we should be looking at for additional operations,” he told PTI in an interview.
Oil prices have surged in recent days in the wake of escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
“… fuel price is almost USD 100 per barrel. That is a very significant increase compared to where we were last year. So different set of challenges but from a demand perspective, things are coming back,” Kannan said.
Noting that the airline will continue to review its operations in any case, he said that financial viability is important.
“Fuel burn in longer flights when the fuel price is high is something that we have to account for which may not have been as high before. So these calculations and assessments will be done. Of course, at the same time, we will also be looking at how to improve our products and services to be able to command a better price premium as well. So, we will look at both sides,” Kannan said.
According to the Vistara chief, most Indians like to take direct flights now and do not want to transit through a third point mainly due to COVID and convenience.
“There is definitely an upside and we believe that it should be something we should be able to utilise in the coming months”.
The airline operated flights to five overseas destinations pre-COVID.
During the pandemic, Vistara started operations to London Heathro0w, Dhaka, Dubai, Doha, Frankfurt, Sharjah, Mal, and Paris.
“We utilised the air bubble arrangements and managed to utilise aircraft very productively and international operations have been doing well for us. Of course, on the other hand, it is not the true sense of operations… as borders open up, there will be more competition and we believe that our products and services will stand the test of time,” he said.
On plans for operating flights to the United States, the Vistara chief said it was work in progress.
“The only question mark that remains now is regarding delivery of Boeing 787 aircraft. We have two of them in the fleet and have an order for four more. The question is when we will be able to get delivery of them and when FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) will allow Boeing to restart the programme,” he said.
The two Boeing 787 planes are being utilised for Europe and some other destinations as charters.
The scheduled international commercial passenger flights to and from India remain suspended since March 23, 2020 and such flights are likely to resume next month.
Currently, overseas flights are operated under bilateral air bubble arrangements with 36 countries, as per the civil aviation ministry.
Under an air bubble arrangement between two countries, international passenger flights can be operated by their respective carriers into each other’s territories subject to certain conditions.
Source: Press Trust of India