Mumbai: Tata-Singapore Airlines promoted full-service carrier Vistara will now be able to start operations only next year due to delay in grant of scheduled Air Operator Permit (AOP). The airline had applied to the DGCA for the permit in April and had planned to launch services by September.
"Vistara has still not received the AOP and even if it gets it in the days to come, the airline will take at least a month to launch," industry sources SAID.
"Besides, any airline looks for few initial bookings before the launch and as of now there is a total silence from the airline on this front," they said. "We are in the final phase of securing the air operator's permit (AOP). We are working with the regulator to complete the remaining process expeditiously and look forward to launch our services soon after receiving the permission," a Vistara spokesperson said in a statement.
It will be all the more difficult for New Delhi-based Vistara to hit the skies after the arrival of winter season, which is known for thick foggy conditions in the north leading to flight delays and cancellations, according to sources.
The to-be-launched full service carrier, in which Tata Sons holds 51 per cent stake and Singapore Airlines the remaining 49 per cent, is also going slow on inducting aircraft due to the delay in flying permit. Against its target of five aircraft by March, so far it has taken delivery of only two planes on lease.
The airline was scheduled to take the third aircraft last month but has deferred it owing to the delay in the obtaining AOP. On a long-term basis, the airline has already decided to lease 20 Airbus A320s, including seven fuel-efficient A320 Neos.
Once it launches, Vistara will be the third full service carrier after state-run Air India and Jet Airways. Vistara will operate from its base Delhi and connect Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Goa, Chandigarh, Srinagar, Jammu and Patna in the first year, as per the plan submitted to the regulator DGCA while applying for the air operator's permit.
It plans to operate 87 flights in the first year, with five leased Airbus A320s, and then scale it up to 301 flights by the fourth year. Apart from the delay in obtaining SOP, the airline is also facing legal hurdles as the previous UPA government's decision to approve the joint venture has been challenged in the Delhi High Court saying the 49 per cent FDI rule in aviation does not allow a new airline with FDI, but only to existing airlines.