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Air India to drop Vistara label post merger says Campbell Wilson, CEO, Air India

Having devoted the first year since its acquisition in making investments on sprucing Air India’s fleet, Tata group is all set to consolidate its operations under just two brands – Air India and Air India Express – distinguishing its full service and low-cost flights. In the process, it has decided to abandon the Vistara brand.

Campbell Wilson, Chief Executive, Air India, informed that this decision was taken as Air India has a greater global recall. “There is a desire to carry forward the heritage of both Air India and Vistara into the new Air India…Vistara clearly has a very strong recognition in the Indian market but if you look outside the Indian market, clearly Air India is much more recognised and has a 90-year history. So, the future full-service carrier will be called Air India but we would like to retain and celebrate some of the Vistara heritage in that new manifestation,” he explained.

He listed three top priorities for the airline presently. First, it will look at deploying, staffing and filling out the new aircrafts coming in.

Second will be two concurrent integration of the four airlines under its wings – the two low-cost airlines – Air India Express and AIX Connect (formerly Air Asia) – and its full-service operations – Air India and Vistara.

Finally, will the human resources handling, including ongoing litigations (“courtroom and human element”, to quote Wilson) hiring and standaradisation of performance expectations, training, incentivisation of employees for all four airlines.

While he expects the merger of Air India Express and AIX Connect to be complete in the next few months, Wilson said the process for integrating Vistara with Air India is presently underway, awaiting approval from Competition Commission of India (CCI). While Vistara’s branding will be dropped, the airline born of this merger will carry forward many of the practices and systems that belonged to VIstara, he explained.

Beyond exploring opportunities to expand its international long haul capabilities, the airline will also look to enhance its cargo handling capacities. “Cargo is going to be a significant part of our revenue mix and significant focus for us in building capability,” said Wilson highlighting the wide body aircraft come with larger belly cargo space.

On crew shortage, Wilson said, “there is a bit of a deficit to catch up, and it will be addressed over the course of coming weeks.” Air India is inducting more than 500 cabin crew each month, he added. Last week, the airline revealed its plan to hire 4,200 cabin crew and 900 pilots in 2023. It also plans to create training facilities for pilots, cabin crew and ground staff.

The record acquisition of 470 aircrafts from Airbus and Boeing, announced by Air India, earlier this month, will be at a list price of $70 billion, which it will fund with a combination of resources.. This would include internal cash flow, shareholder equity and sale-and-leaseback of aircraft.

The big ticket purchase followed an announcement on leasing 36 aircrafts, of which two Boeing 777-200 LR has already joined the fleet. On exercising the option to purchase another 370 planes, Wilson said, “We don’t have a timeline…will evaluate the market and our needs.” (Source Deccan Herald)

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