India’s Tata Group, which currently own 4 major airlines – Air India, Vistara, Air India Express & Air Asia India, is currently undergoing major overhaul and merger. AviationSource writer Gaurav Gowda reports on recent developments.
Vistara has become a highly reputable brand amongst Indian operators in recent years. After the demise of Jet Airways, Vistara became the sole private operated full-service carrier in the country.
Air India still was a full-service carrier but was owned by the Government of India and wasn’t quite known for its service or on-time performance (OTP).
Many frequent fliers thus choose Vistara over any other airline and were shocked to hear the news of merger of Vistara with Air India, after which the brand “Vistara” will cease to exist.
They also announced that the Air Asia India brand will also cease to exist and be merged with Air India Express.
This basically means that by the end of this entire “crisscross” merger, Tata Group will own one full-service carrier, namely Air India, one low cost carrier – Air India Express.
Now fast forward to present day March 2023 – the merger process seems to have kicked off, at least for Air Asia India and Air India express.
Recently the Twitter handle of Air India Express was updated, asking its users to now follow their account named Air India Express & Air Asia India or “AirIndiaX”
This is one of the first major steps towards the merger of both the airlines. Turning to Air India, it is expected that this merger will be complete by 2024, but again this timeframe will be subject to approvals from the various departments.
Recently, at the CAPA India summit 2023, Air India CEO, Mr. Campbell Wilson said that the airline is focused on getting the grounded aircraft back into operation, and in next few months all the widebody aircraft which are currently grounded will be returned to service.
Mr Wilson also mentioned that refurbishment of existing aircraft and preparing grounded aircraft for operations is taking longer than expected, largely due to global supply chain issues.
He also acknowledged the issue regarding flight cancellations due to shortage in crew – this had mainly affected the airlines operations to and from United States, as it had to reduce its frequency to ensure minimal disruption.
To ensure this doesn’t hold the airline back from its expansion, Wilson explained that airline has already invested in training academy for cabin crew, pilots and it is confident that very soon it will be able to employee these candidates to ensure minimal disruption to its network.
For quite some time now there was uncertainty as to what will happen to Vistara’s employees after merger and how many will be absorbed by Air India.
Clearing the air on this, CEO of Vistara Mr. Vinod Kannan said that Vistara currently has about 5103 employees, out of which almost 80% are operational staff (including pilots, cabin crew, engineers).
More than 5000 staff will be absorbed by the parent airline Air India and they will be transitioned along with the aircraft, though Mr Kannan highlighted that there might be some designation changes once they become part of Air India.
Nevertheless, he assured that there will be plenty of opportunity under Air India. Speaking about support staff, Kannan said that they will also find a place in the airline as, under Government of India, they had not hired staff for many departments.
All in all, this statement comes as a relief to many employees of Vistara who were worried about their job security.