by Anurag Kotoky - Bloomberg
* Singapore Air’s India unit eligible to fly overseas next year
* Vistara looking at wide-bodied jets for long-haul routes
Vistara, Singapore Airlines Ltd.’s Indian venture that operates an all-Airbus fleet, is seeking to recruit pilots trained on Boeing Co. aircraft, people familiar with the matter said.
The airline is hiring first officers with at least 750 hours of experience flying Boeing aircraft, according to a letter the New Delhi-based airline sent to pilots, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is not public. Vistara now operates a fleet of 13 Airbus A320 jets.
Vistara, in which Indian conglomerate Tata Sons Ltd. owns 51 percent with Singapore’s flag carrier holding the rest, is considering buying or leasing wide-bodied aircraft for long-haul routes and will seek funds from its owners to finance the purchase, the company said last year. The company may opt for the Boeing 777X jets, Sydney-based CAPA Centre for Aviation said in May.
The airline has yet to decide on the type of aircraft it wants to order for its international routes, one of the people said.
Airbus dominates India’s single-aisle plane market with most budget carriers using its A320 family of aircraft. Boeing dominates the long-haul planes.
Tata and Singapore Airlines started the venture in January, 2015 after an earlier attempt by the two partners in the mid-1990s failed.
Indian Prime Minister Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet ratified policy changes last year, permitting domestic airlines to fly overseas, provided they deploy 20 planes or 20 percent of capacity, whichever is higher, on local routes. Earlier, carriers needed to have at least 20 aircraft in their fleet and five years of domestic operations.
The carrier offers 19 domestic destinations with more than 550 weekly flights. It will add seven more jets by the middle of next year, making it eligible to start overseas flights.