Would the eventual integration of the two carriers work wonders in the Indian aviation landscape? Or would it create a culture clash?
The Skift India Newsletter is your go-to platform for all news related to travel, tourism, airlines, and hospitality in India.
Indian conglomerate Tata Group has sought fair-trade regulator Competition Commission of India‘s approval for a merger between its Air India and Vistara — the company’s joint venture with Singapore Airlines — into a single full service carrier called Air India. This is separate from the already underway (and regulator-approved) merger of Air India Express and Air Asia India into a single low cost carrier, named Air India Express. Tata would hold 51 percent of the total equity of the merged entity while Singapore Airlines would own a 25.1 percent minority stake, according to a filing on the regulator’s website. Air India would also absorb all Vistara employees. Vistara currently has about 5,103 employees, and around 80 percent are operational staff, including pilots, cabin crew and engineers. The merger, announced in November last year, would create a stronger rival to India’s dominant carrier IndiGo and help Singapore Airlines solidify its foothold in one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets. Air India recently placed a mega order for 470 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus as it plans to become a dominant player globally.
Betting big on religious destinations for expansion, IPO-bound hospitality and travel technology company Oyo has announced that it will add 50 properties in Ayodhya in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh this year. Of these, about 25 will be homestays run by homeowners and another 25 will be small and medium hotels with 10 to 20 rooms each. “We have started onboarding homestays already. Ayodhya is the top spiritual city in our plans of expanding Oyo footprints across major religious corridors in India,” said Anuj Tejpal, chief merchant officer of Oyo. Oyo’s Cultural Travel 2022 Round-up Report highlighted that spiritual travel is a key contributor to the domestic travel recovery in India.
Indian airlines have witnessed an annual growth of 51.7 percent in passenger traffic during January-March 2023 as compared to the corresponding period last year, according to Indian aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Domestic airlines carried 375.04 lakh passengers between January-March 2023, as against 247.23 lakh in the same period last year. Indian airlines carried 128.93 lakh passengers in March 2023 alone as compared to 106.19 lakh in March 2022. IndiGo remained the market leader with a 55.7 percent share, followed by Air India at 9 percent and Vistara at 8.8 percent. The passenger load factor for various airlines in March shows SpiceJet recording the highest at 92.3 percent, followed by Vistara at 91.6 percent and Go First at 90.2 percent, the regulator said.
Radisson Hotel Group has announced the signing of three new hotels under its Park Inn & Suites by Radisson brand in the south Indian states of Kerala and Bengaluru. These signings are a part of the group’s partnership with Ruptub Solutions to develop a 150-hotel-strong network of the brand — tailor-made for India’s tier 2 to 5 markets — in South and Northeast India. Park Inn & Suites by Radisson Thrissur will open in the second quarter of 2024, Park Inn & Suites by Radisson Wayanad Ambalavayal is expected to open in the first quarter of 2024 and Park Inn & Suites by Radisson Yelahanka in Bengaluru will also open doors in the first quarter of 2024. Earlier this month, Radisson Hotel Group had also announced that it would be debuting its luxury lifestyle brand, Radisson Collection in India with the signing of the first hotel in Hyderabad. The 300-room Radisson Collection hotel in the southern part of the country would be operational by the second quarter of 2026.
Indian aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation has signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency — the 27-country bloc’s civil aviation authority — for cooperation in aviation safety at regulatory level. Indian airport operator Airports Authority of India also signed a declaration of intent with Eurocontrol — a civil-military organization dedicated to supporting European aviation — to focus on air traffic control. They signed the agreements at the EU-India Aviation Summit held in India’s capital New Delhi. The summit focused on European Union-India air transport relations and the mutually shared challenges and opportunities of the two regions, such as the post-Covid recovery of air traffic, increasing sustainability, maintaining safety and the development of unmanned aircraft systems.
Indian Railways is set to sign a $6.5 billion deal with Russian locomotives manufacturer Transmashholding for the production, supply and maintenance of 120 Vande Bharat Express trains, Russian news agency TASS reported. Each of these 16-car long-distance semi-high speed trains are expected to be delivered between 2026 and 2030. The Indian Railways would pay $1.8 billion for supplying the trains and another $2.5 billion for their maintenance over a period of 35 years. The Russian company took part in the tender process jointly with the Indian state construction and engineering company RVNL. It beat out the proposals by companies such as Alstom, Stadler, Siemens, and a consortium of local producers led by Titagarh and Bharat Heavy Electronics Limited, which bid the second-lowest.
Malaysia Airlines will heavily focus on the Indian market with the airline still not seeing China bounce back after its sudden reopening following years of Covid restrictions. “For now, our key emphasis is on the Indian network,” the carrier’s chief strategy officer Bryan Foong said. “For us, the emphasis of growth in India is exciting and it helps with our overall network flow as it feeds into other parts of our network,” he added. About 14.5 million people traveled to and from India in the three months ended December 31, versus around 16.5 million in the same period in 2019, showing that the market has almost recovered to pre-pandemic levels. Malaysia Airlines will operate 60 flights a week to South Asia this year, compared with just 27 services to China.
Hospitality major Marriott has announced the opening of Mulberry Shades Bengaluru Nandi Hills, A Tribute Portfolio Resort in the south Indian state of Karnataka. The resort comprises 102 villas and suites, three restaurants, spam gym, and a yoga and meditation room. “We’re thrilled to welcome this vibrant new resort within Tribute’s Portfolio to Bengaluru, one of the most cosmopolitan and progressive cities of India. This opening marks the eighteenth property to join our growing portfolio of brands in this city,” said Ranju Alex, vice president of South Asia at Marriott International.
The Kolkata airport authorities are planning an expansion to handle 2 million more passengers every year from the current 26 million passengers a year, Indian media reported. The runway capacity, too, is being increased from 35 flights an hour to 45 flights an hour. The authorities are planning to increase the capacity of the terminal by using unutilized space and by constructing a small extension to the building. An additional taxiway and three additional rapid exit taxiways are being built to allow faster take-off and to reduce the time taken by aircraft to vacate the runway after landing. A second terminal building is scheduled to come up in the next phase of expansion.
Indian wellness luxury hospitality brand Niraamaya Wellness Retreats has signed a management contract to operate and manage Vaidekam Ayurveda Healing Village in the south Indian state of Kerala. India bets big on wellness tourism with indigenous treatments like ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy. Set to open doors in June this year, the green, eco-friendly retreat is located in the Malabar region of the state and 25 miles away from the Kannur International Airport. “We are thrilled to welcome Vaidekam Ayurveda Healing Village to our Niraamaya Wellness Retreats portfolio and introduce a wellness conscious Ayurvedic retreat to the market,” said Allen Machado, chief executive of Niraamaya Retreats.
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Tags: air india, air traffic, airlines, airports, aviation, european union, india, indian railways, malaysia airlines, marriott, oyo, radisson hotel group, singapore airlines, skift india report, Tata Group, vistara, wellness tourism
Photo credit: The new entity would be branded as Air India Express. Source: Wikimedia Common/Md Shaifuzzaman Ayon https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Air_India_Boeing_787-8_Dreamliner_VT-ANP_Mahatma_Gandhi_Livery.jpg Md Shaifuzzaman Ayon / Wikimedia Commons