Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Airlines

India’s Vistara Reports Profit for First Time Since Inception

6 days ago

Indian carrier Vistara reported its first-ever net profit for the quarter ending December 2022, according to statement from the airline on Monday.  

The full-service carrier, a joint venture of Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, reported break even for the first time since its inception in 2015 as it crossed the $1 billion revenue mark and remained earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization positive in the current fiscal year.

In 2022, Vistara reported that it grew its international network by over 180 percent adding seven routes including three new destinations Muscat, Jeddah and Abu Dhabi.

The airline said that it grew its domestic network by over 50 percent, by adding six new routes and two new destinations Coimbatore and Jaipur.

While the airline did not share numbers, but for the quarter ending December 2022, it reported a 37 percent growth in capacity and a passenger increase of 47 percent compared to the same period last year.

Since July 2022, the airline has maintained its position as the second largest domestic airline in India, flying more than 11 million passengers in the calendar year 2022.

Vistara also registered a 11 percent year-on-year growth in the member base for its frequent flyer program Club Vistara.

The airline currently operates close to 8,500 flights per month.

“With significant network and fleet expansion and sustained growth over the last few months, 2022 has been a phenomenal year for Vistara, in terms of our operational and financial performance,” Vinod Kannan, Vistara CEO, said.

Speaking earlier to Skift in an interview, Kannan had mentioned that the element of revenge travel has worked for the airline.

Vistara is also getting ready for a merger with Air India, the erstwhile Indian state carrier, that had been acquired by Tata Sons, via its subsidiary, Talace, early last year as part of a $2.4 billion deal.

The Vistara-Air India merger is said to be completed by March 2024, following which Air India shall be India’s largest international carrier and second largest domestic carrier with a combined fleet of 218 aircraft.

Airlines

AirAsia India-Air India Merger by 2023 as AirAsia Sells Off India Stake to Tatas

3 months ago

Budget carrier AirAsia India is likely to be merged with Air India Express by the end of 2023. An operational review process is underway to integrate the two carriers, Air India said in a statement this week.

The merger news follows Malaysia-based AirAsia Aviation Group’s announcement on Wednesday that it has sold off its remaining 16.67 percent stake in AirAsia India to Tatas-owned Air India.

The agreement that will fetch AirAsia $18.83 million, also states that AirAsia India can continue to use the ‘AirAsia’ brand name for 12 months.

Aimed at having a single low-cost carrier for the Air India group, following the merger the entity will be branded as Air India Express, a statement read.

In June, Indian watchdog Competition Commission of India had approved the proposed acquisition of the entire shareholding of AirAsia India by Air India.

Following the acquisition of Air India and Air India Express in January, the Tata Group now owns four airlines — Air India, Air India Express, AirAsia India and Vistara. Vistara is a joint venture with Singapore Airlines.

In a recent interview with Skift the Vistara CEO when asked about a possible merger between the airlines under the Tata fold had said that there are certain discussions that have been happening which he is not privy to.

Commenting further on AirAsia selling off its remaining stake to Air India, Group CEO of AirAsia Aviation Group, Bo Lingam, said Covid has allowed them to re-examine priorities, and the group feels it is best suited for AirAsia to develop an Asean-only business with airlines in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

“We will use the experience and knowledge we have gained from operating in the Indian domestic market to grow the Asean-Indian market in logistics and passenger services to a far greater extent,” Lingam added.

Launched in 2014, AirAsia India currently flies to 18 destinations with a market share of 5.9 percent.

Airlines

Majority Owner of India’s SpiceJet Looks to Sell Part of His Stake

6 months ago

Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director of Indian carrier SpiceJet, is said to be in talks with a Middle Eastern carrier and an Indian conglomerate to partially sell a portion of his stake in the budget airline.

Singh holds around 60 percent stake in the airline.

“The company continues to be in discussions with various investors to secure sustainable financing and will make appropriate disclosures in accordance with applicable regulations,” a SpiceJet spokesperson said.

A major Middle Eastern airline has expressed interest to pick a 24 percent stake and a board seat in SpiceJet. An Indian business conglomerate has also approached Singh for a stake in the airline, IANS reported while quoting a source.

With two carriers — Akasa and Jet 2.0 — set to debut in India this year, the stake sale would help bring much-needed equity infusion into SpiceJet, India’s third largest airline by market share.

The airline posted a net loss of $158 million in the April-December period of 2021, and is yet to declare financial results for the January-March period of 2022.

Last year, Indian aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) noted that SpiceJet had been operating on “cash and carry” method and approved vendors were not being paid on regular basis.

On August 2, SpiceJet stated that it had entered into a full and final settlement with the Airports Authority of India and has cleared all outstanding principal dues of the airport operator. “With this, SpiceJet will no longer remain on “cash and carry” at AAI run airports across the country and will revert to advance payment mechanism for daily flight operations,” a statement from the airline read.

Last year, SpiceJet had also announced its plan to transfer its cargo and logistics services on a slump sale basis to its subsidiary SpiceXpress to help the company raise funds independently. “The proposed hiving off of SpiceXpress is proceeding as per plan,” the airline spokesperson said.

Last month, DGCA issued a show-cause notice to Spicejet after its aircraft were hit by at least eight incidents of technical malfunction since June 19. The incidents included crack in the aircraft’s windshield, engine catching fire, weather radar malfunction and fuselage door warning.

On July 27, the airline was asked to operate only 50 percent of its approved flights for summer schedule for eight weeks.

Airlines

India’s Newest Carrier Akasa Air to Begin Commercial Operations From August 7

6 months ago

Akasa Air, India’s newest airline, will be taking to the skies on August 7 with its first flight connecting the country’s financial center — Mumbai with Ahmedabad in western India.

Akasa will operate 28 weekly flights between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. From August 13 onwards, the airline will start operating 28 weekly flights between Bengaluru, more popularly known as India’s Silicon Valley, and Kochi — a city in the coastal state of Kerala.

The bookings for flights are now open. The airline that claims to have India’s youngest and greenest fleet, will be operating the brand-new Boeing 737 Max aircraft on both routes. Akasa plans to add two aircraft to its fleet each month, in its first year.

In an interview with Skift, Vinay Dube, the airline’s founder and CEO, had highlighted that the airline’s network strategy would focus on establishing a strong pan-India presence linking metropolitan cities to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities across the country.

“We will adopt a phased approach to support our network expansion plans, progressively connecting more cities, as we add two aircraft to our fleet each month, in our first year,” said Praveen Iyer, co-founder and chief commercial officer of Akasa Air.

Calling the airline unlike anything experienced in the category thus far, Dube reiterated the importance of providing an efficient customer service, a reliable and dependable network, and affordable fares.

The airline will be offering buy-on-board meal service through Cafe Akasa.

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