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Vistara to buy 19 Airbus, Boeing planes worth $3.1 billion; to take 37 A320 neo aircraft on lease

NEW DELHI

Vistara today said it would place orders for 19 Airbus and Boeing planes worth USD 3.1 billion (over Rs 21,300 crore) and induct 37 more aircraft from A320 neo family on lease, as it embarks on “aggressive expansion”, including flying overseas.

The more than three-year old airline — a joint venture between Tatas and Singapore Airlines — would be purchasing 13 planes of A320 neo family from Airbus and 6 Dreamliners (787-9 aircraft) from Boeing.

Vistara, which has a fleet of 21 A320 planes, plans to commence its international operations later this year.

Taking into account various proposed as well as firmed up orders by domestic airlines, these carriers would add over 1,000 more planes to their existing fleets in the coming years.

In a statement today, Vistara said it has agreed to place firm orders with Airbus for 13 aircraft from the A320 neo family and with Boeing for six 787-9 Dreamliner.

“Together, the deals are valued at USD 3.1 billion, based on published list prices, it said.

The letters of intent inked with Airbus and Boeing also provide the option for buying more aircraft from the two plane makers.

Vistara CEO Leslie Thng told PTI that the airline has all along aspired to be a “global international airline”.

Responding to a query about the decision to have both Airbus and Boeing aircraft in its fleet, he said the A320 neo fleet would be best for strengthening domestic operations and for starting international operations, regionally as well as on short haul routes.

For medium and long haul operations, Leslie Thng said it is a different market and a different strategy in terms of “how we want to do it, when we want to do it and where we want to deploy (these aircraft)”.

The Dreamliners were the best fleet for Vistara in terms of “mission, strategy and the way we want to embark on our medium to long haul international operations”, he said.

“We look at Boeing in terms of commercial proposals, product, fuel efficiency as compared to where we intend to eventually deploy these aircraft overseas in medium to long haul (routes)… compared to other aircraft available, 787 is the best fleet for us,” he noted.

As per the statement, the letter of intent signed with Airbus is for 13 A320 neo and A321 neo aircraft as well as options for buying seven more aircraft from the A320 neo family. The airline has also firmed up plans to take another 37 new A320 neo family aircraft from leasing companies.

The airline has selected the LEAP 1-A engines from CFM International for the A320 neo and A321 neo aircraft, which are to be delivered between 2019 and 2023.

These aircraft would be used to strengthen its domestic network and to support its international operations planned for later this year, the statement said.

The letter of intent signed with Boeing comprises six firm-ordered 787-9 Dreamliner and purchase rights for four more aircraft from the 787 Dreamliner family, it added.

For these planes, the airline has selected General Electric GEnx-1B engines, and delivery is scheduled between 2020 and 2021. The 787-9s are intended for use on medium haul and long haul international routes, it added.

About the cabin configuration for the new aircraft, the Vistara chief said it is “work in progress” as the configuration is in the process of being finalised.

A320 neo and A321 neo planes can have up to 194 seats and 244 seats, respectively, while a Boeing 787-9 aircraft can have up to 290 seats, as per information available on the websites of Airbus and Boeing.

Leslie Thng said funding for the new planes would come from the shareholders — Tatas and Singapore Airlines. “As of now, the shareholders have committed to fund…,” he added.

When the airline at this stage is taking “more aggressive expansion”, it would again look at its strategy, he noted.

Further, he said exercising the option of acquiring more aircraft would depend on infrastructure and market demand.

In the statement, Leslie Thng said Indias position as the worlds fastest growing domestic aviation market and its impressive growth in air passenger traffic that has more than doubled over the last decade, make the airline confident of aggressive plans for domestic expansion and international foray.

The airline serves 22 destinations with over 800 flights a week. From the initial order, it is to take delivery of one more A320 neo in September this year.

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