By Ezra Gollan
Merger with Vistara Ushers Promising Future for Air India
Indian conglomerate TATA Group has announced it is merging Indian flag carrier Air India with the Singapore Airlines joint-venture airline, Vistara. The move looks to bolster Air India’s presence in Asia and provide a facelift to an Air India that in the last few years has been hanging on by a thread both in terms of finances and its public perception.
The chairman of Tata Sons, Mr. Natarajan Chandrasekaran said in a press release, “The merger of Vistara and Air India is an important milestone in our journey to make Air India a truly world-class airline. We are transforming Air India, with the aim of providing a great customer experience, every time, for every customer. As part of the transformation, Air India is focusing on growing both its network and fleet, revamping its customer proposition, and enhancing safety, reliability, and on-time performance.
As a result, the merger will make the airline India’s second-largest domestic carrier and largest international carrier with a combined fleet size of 218 aircraft. Vistara — since its founding in 2013 — has risen to become one of India’s leading airlines and serves much of the domestic Indian market along with routes to Singapore and London among other shorter, international routes. It is clear that Tata Sons — the TATA subsidiary responsible for Vistara and Air India — sees the move as a pathway to giving Air India new life.
“We are excited about the opportunity of creating a strong Air India which would offer both full-service and low-cost service across domestic and international routes. We would like to thank Singapore Airlines for their continued partnership.” The merger which will be completed in 2024 excites Singapore Airlines too with the carrier looking to strengthen its holdings in India and Southeast Asia,” Chandrasekaran added.
Singapore Airlines Chief Executive Officer Mr. Goh Choon Phong said, “Tata Sons is one of the most established and respected names in India. Our collaboration to set up Vistara in 2013 resulted in a market-leading full-service carrier, which has won many global accolades in a short time. With this merger, we have an opportunity to deepen our relationship with Tata and participate directly in an exciting new growth phase in India’s aviation market. We will work together to support Air India’s transformation program, unlock its significant potential, and restore it to its position as a leading airline on the global stage.”
Singapore Airlines seeing potential in Air India means it sees potential in the Indian aviation market, given that India now holds one of the globe’s fastest-growing populations and economies and as a result, a tremendous rise in the number of people who can afford to travel and want to travel. Whether or not the merger will rescue Air India’s image is another issue, but things have to be looking for a carrier that just a year ago, was saved with its sale to the TATA Group for close to $3 billion after years of financial struggles and continuous government bailouts.