Vistara, an Indian full-service airline owned by Tata Group and Singapore Airlines, is contemplating beginning direct flights to the United States because the Covid-19 pandemic will increase demand for continuous journey, a senior government mentioned on Friday.

While the precise timeframe and plane necessities are but to be finalised, Vistara is finding out varied eventualities for direct flights, Vinod Kannan, chief business officer, advised Reuters in an interview.

Covid-19 introduced air journey to a grinding halt earlier this 12 months as nations imposed journey bans. While journey has resumed to some extent, passenger numbers stay far beneath earlier ranges and a full restoration might take years.

Vistara has seen an increase in demand for continuous flights, as passengers attempt to keep away from stopovers to cut back the danger of getting contaminated – a pattern it expects will proceed sooner or later.

Flag provider Air India is the one Indian airline presently providing direct flights to the U.S.

“This means there is definitely an opportunity…to fly direct to the U.S., and it is an opportunity we are looking at,” Kannan mentioned.

The airline, which began worldwide flights final 12 months, presently operates two Boeing Co widebody planes and has 4 extra on order however Kannan mentioned the specs and structure weren’t suited to direct flights to the United States.

Whether Vistara would have a look at ordering new planes or leasing them is underneath dialogue.

“In today’s situation it is much easier to lease a widebody compared to one year ago. Those opportunities and scenarios are being worked on,” Kannan mentioned.

Prior to Covid-19, the airline flew to locations like Bangkok and Singapore and had plans to begin flying to Japan and Europe. Its worldwide flights at the moment are restricted to locations like London and Dubai with which India has a bilateral “air bubble” association to function direct flights.

It is in talks to begin flights to Paris and Frankfurt underneath the identical bilateral settlement, Kannan mentioned.

By mid-2023, Vistara expects 20% to 30% of its complete seat capability to be deployed on worldwide routes, up from lower than 10% final 12 months.

It expects to broaden its fleet to 70 planes – a mixture of Airbus’ narrow-body planes and Boeing widebodies – from 47 or 48 planes by the top of the present fiscal 12 months.

While Vistara continues to negotiate with distributors on prices and delays taking supply of some planes, it’s beginning to see some restoration in home enterprise and leisure journey.

“It has not been an easy year and it will affect my break-even point and push it back,” Kannan mentioned.

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