The new airline was given a grand send off from Terminal 3 at Indira Gandhi International Airport, where Dr Mahesh Sharma, India’s Minister of Tourism, Culture & Civil Aviation, cut the ceremonial ribbon in the presence senior executives from SIA and its joint venture partner, Tata Sons.
A group of children from the Salaam Baalak Trust, enjoying their first ever flight, were among the passengers on Vistara’s inaugural flight.
Vistara’s creation was made possible by the recent relaxation of rules governing the foreign ownership of Indian airlines.
“Though India is projected to be the third largest aviation market globally by 2020 – and the sector opening up to allow 49% FDI will attract many new players – the focus will be on safety and quality, which is more important,” said Dr Sharma. “Also it is the Prime Minister’s vision to develop India as a leading tourism hub and connectivity is imperative to achieve this. So we welcome Vistara.”
Prasad Menon, chairman of TATA SIA Airlines, said the launch of Vistara marks “the start of the new exciting chapter in Tata Group’s history”.
“I feel honoured to be part of this journey of Vistara, which has its core philosophy steeped in the same tradition as the Tata Group. For long now, we have held on to this particular dream and today I can proudly say that our persistence has been well worth it and has paid off. Vistara’s first flight today is a commencement of a unique flying experience,” said Menon.
A Delhi-based full-service carrier, Vistara will operate a fleet of 148-seat Airbus A320 aircraft featuring business class, premium economy and economy class cabins.
In an effort to differentiate itself from its Indian rivals, Vistara will offer a range of customer service initiatives, including a wide range of in-flight meal options, “hassle-free check-in and boarding process” and a frequent flyer programme tied up with Taj Hotels.
Vistara is 51% owned by Tata Sons, with SIA holding the remaining 49%.