Vistara Plans Delhi To Newark Flight… Via London?!

Vistara Plans Delhi To Newark Flight… Via London?!

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It looks like Vistara may soon start flying between India and the United States. However, the route isn’t what you’d expect (or maybe it is?).

Vistara could launch flights to Newark

Back in April 2021, I wrote about how Vistara requested permission with the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) to start flying to the United States. The airline didn’t at the time state which route it wanted to launch, but rather just that it hoped to start these flights by September 2021. Understandably, the travel restrictions that are in place probably delayed that, but the United States will be opening to vaccinated travelers as of November.

For those not familiar, Vistara was founded in 2015, and it’s probably India’s most premium airline. The airline is a joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines (Tata Sons is in the process of purchasing Air India, so that’s going to be interesting). Vistara recently started flying Boeing 787-9s, as previously the airline only had narrow body aircraft.

While we haven’t heard much lately about Vistara’s plans to fly to the United States, it looks like we now have a clue of what we can expect. As noted by paxex.aero, Vistara has secured some noteworthy slots at London Gatwick Airport for this winter:

  • Vistara has slots at London Gatwick (LGW) that it intends to use for flights to both Newark (EWR) and Delhi (DEL)
  • The airline has enough slots to operate this route 3x weekly in each direction
  • Whether or not this route comes to fruition is anyone’s guess, but it seems that Vistara is at least considering this route, and has received the necessary permission
Vistara Boeing 787-9

What’s the logic of Vistara flying via London?

Why would Vistara operate a Delhi to Newark flight via London? On the surface one might think that this is an attempt at a fifth freedom flight, as it’s possible the airline could sell seats between Newark and London (this is something Air India tried back in the day, but that route was cut).

However, there’s actually a different explanation. For whatever reason, Vistara ordered its Boeing 787s without crew rest facilities. This prevents the airline from operating these planes on ultra long haul routes, where crew rest is required. Now, the airline could block off a bunch of seats as crew rest facilities, but that would be pretty costly.

By stopping in London, Vistara could change crews there, allowing this flight to be operated without a crew rest. However, one has to wonder about the viability of a route like this if the airline isn’t even able to operate nonstop:

  • Several airlines fly nonstop between New York City-area airports and Delhi, including Air India, American, and United, and on top of that there are endless one-stop options
  • Vistara already has a partnership with United, which has a major hub at Newark; I suppose on the one hand this could give Vistara some connecting traffic, though on the other hand the partnership dynamics could change considerably if Vistara is now competing head-to-head against United
  • Vistara’s costs sure would be steep for this route, when you consider the type of crew rotation that would be required, especially with just 3x weekly frequencies; it would take crews well over a week to complete the rotation, and that’s a lot of hotel rooms to book
Vistara’s Boeing 787-9 business class

Bottom line

In the spring of 2021, Vistara revealed plans to start flying to the United States. It seems like that could soon become a reality, with a new Delhi to Newark route via London. We could see this route with up to 3x weekly frequencies as of this winter. The timing makes sense, when you consider that the United States’ travel ban against India will be lifted in the next couple of weeks.

The reason for the stop in London (other than the potential value of having a fifth freedom flight) is that Vistara’s 787s don’t have crew rests, so there’s not an efficient way the airline could fly nonstop between India and the United States.

I’m not sure I see merit to this route based on the need for a stop, though it sure would be fun to fly Vistara between Newark and London.

What do you make Vistara’s potential Newark route?

Conversations (20)
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  1. Jacob Guest

    There are plenty for direct to Delhi options to fly from USA. And if you're flying to another airport, then you will end up having 2 stops. Like BLR, HYD, COK etc, it's possible to fly while stopping only once with Emirates, AI, Etihad , QA etc.

  2. Leigh Guest

    There are many smart comments here, so I can’t be disagreeable.

    However, India, like some other countries, tends to be poor yields. Maybe that’s why the LGW stopover, for 5th freedom traffic?

    I wonder if that’s why AA and UA are going after Bangalore, a more high-yield business center?

    Was reading that the ME3 largest India market is Hyderabad from the US, and I have no clue about that city. Anyone?

    1. Emily Guest

      Not sure regarding the accuracy of that statement. Pre-Covid, loads on average exceeded 80% on flights USAIndia. Chances are these 5th freedom operations are more due to operational and crew halt restrictions. The Bangalore and Hyderabad routes do indeed have highest passenger yields, but that's partially due to the relatively smaller number of options on these routes.

  3. Kent Guest

    Didn't Air India fly this route for 53 years? I hardly call that "trying".

  4. Always Flying Somewhere Guest

    This routing isn't all that unusual. Air Canada used to operate YYZ-LHR-DEL flights. Jet Airways used to fly East Coast to India via BRU.

  5. syed Ehteshamuddin Guest

    Vistara,should fly direct to EWR. They could fly with one additional FDC. Block 2 seats for rest. In this way Fuel, Hotac, landing, and overflying fees is saved. As compared to London stopover. Plus instead of 3X make it 4X Flts to EWR.

  6. Airing Guest

    Reading this post reminds me that one of the airline discussion boards (hint: the FF-focused one) has referred to Vistara as Jet Airways 2.0.

    Jet Airways rushed into longhaul US operations relatively fast with a one-stop connecting hub in Brussels that was already looking old-fashioned in the late 2000s. Its 777s were outfitted with heavy first-class suites, so they didn't have the range to fly nonstop to the US East Coast.

    Vistara seems even less...

    Reading this post reminds me that one of the airline discussion boards (hint: the FF-focused one) has referred to Vistara as Jet Airways 2.0.

    Jet Airways rushed into longhaul US operations relatively fast with a one-stop connecting hub in Brussels that was already looking old-fashioned in the late 2000s. Its 777s were outfitted with heavy first-class suites, so they didn't have the range to fly nonstop to the US East Coast.

    Vistara seems even less interested than Jet Airways in building a strong regional network, instead launch "prestige" longhaul routes to LHR, FRA, HND, CDG very recently. (Just look how Turkish or Emirates built their longhaul operations on top robust regional networks. They kind of go together.) Finally, their 787-9s don't have a crew rest facilities, so they can't fly nonstop even to NYC.

    Instead of 2021, they seem like a throwback to 1981, when a single stop from the USA to India was probably a huge step up from the milk runs of the 70s and earlier. Good luck competing against the United and Air Canada nonstops.

    Jet Airways 2.0 indeed.

  7. Justin Guest

    If the pricing is competitive or preferably at a discount vs. UA, BA and Virgin, I'd be very interested in flying Vistara on a fifth-freedom route to LGW out of EWR in business class.

  8. Kevin Guest

    Meh, the usual boring Delhi-Somewhere flight. Ignoring Mumbai and Bangalore as usual. United's Mumbai-Newark is the only nonstop between Mumbai and USA currently - it was not discontinued even for a single day during the pandemic. Even AI hasn't given details about when is their Mumbai-Newark resuming.

    While Delhi has 3x Newark daily, 2x SFO daily, 1x Chicago/DC/Vancouver/Toronto/Montreal. Bangalore will soon have 2x SFO daily, 1x Seattle daily. Fail to understand why Mumbai gets neglected...

    Meh, the usual boring Delhi-Somewhere flight. Ignoring Mumbai and Bangalore as usual. United's Mumbai-Newark is the only nonstop between Mumbai and USA currently - it was not discontinued even for a single day during the pandemic. Even AI hasn't given details about when is their Mumbai-Newark resuming.

    While Delhi has 3x Newark daily, 2x SFO daily, 1x Chicago/DC/Vancouver/Toronto/Montreal. Bangalore will soon have 2x SFO daily, 1x Seattle daily. Fail to understand why Mumbai gets neglected every time, given there are lots of slots available at the BOM airport after Jet Airways went away.

    1. DCharlie Guest

      Simple reasons actually - Mumbai's infrastructure, logistics nightmare, shortage of slots, and exorbitant costs make it prohibitive for airlines to consider it a hub. T2 in Mumbai is newer than T3 in Delhi, but it came far too late. BOM has only one functional runway with a second as back-up, not allowing simultaneous operations. Furthermore, room for future growth is limited. Whereas, DEL has already started work on T4 and land for T5 has been...

      Simple reasons actually - Mumbai's infrastructure, logistics nightmare, shortage of slots, and exorbitant costs make it prohibitive for airlines to consider it a hub. T2 in Mumbai is newer than T3 in Delhi, but it came far too late. BOM has only one functional runway with a second as back-up, not allowing simultaneous operations. Furthermore, room for future growth is limited. Whereas, DEL has already started work on T4 and land for T5 has been allocated, the best alternative for growth in Bombay is building an airport outside the city. Finally, the infrastructure surrounding the airports is superior for mass-transit in cities like Delhi and Noida. All of these factors are unfavorable to Bombay and create risks for international airline operations. Bombay is a logistical nightmare, even for its daily citizens - let alone airline crews being shuttled around in peak hours traffic. Just my two cents as a former Bombay resident.

    2. DJS Guest

      EWR-BOM resumes on November 10th

  9. Manmohan Mohanty Guest

    I think Vistara needs to familiarise with this route before they receive the crew rest fitted 787-9s and start operating non-stop. But I still wonder, during the break in London, what the dynamics would be, and how inconvenient would it be for passengers. I feel Vistara has to offer low priced tickets for people to prefer this flight, as the distance is long and passengers have to compromise on time.
    Pls subscribe to my YouTube channel to see flight reviews.

  10. J.R.Halonen Guest

    Since Vistara exteded their codeshare agreement with Lufthansa, there may be a possibility that Vistara operates more frequent flights between Frankfurt and Delhi/Mumbai, instead of operating one-stop flights between USA and India which is highly competitive.

  11. Tracy S Guest

    I always consider the possibility of a London stopover when planning a Delhi trip, there are a number of people there to visit. Vistara @ Gatwick is more attractive to me than just about anyone @ Heathrow, assuming cost is roughly equivalent.

  12. Corrado Guest

    I’d rather fly vistara with stopover than ual, aal, or Air India.

    Assuming similar pricing.

  13. Anthony Parr Guest

    I actually prefer Gatwick over Heathrow since rail connections to London and the South East are much better. I’d fly this route just for that reason.

    Nothing worse than arriving at Heathrow, walking what seems like 10 miles to the tube station, then sitting on the packed Piccadilly line for at least an hour.

    1. Sam Guest

      ummm... Heathrow express?

  14. Sean M. Diamond

    Air India didn't just "try" the London-NYC route. They operated it continuously for nearly 50 years!

    1. Luke Guest

      Ya exactly, it was simply "upgraded" to nonstop US flights after acquiring the capable aircraft for it!

    2. Sean M. Diamond

      @Luke - Even after the nonstops started from BOM and DEL, Air India ran AMD-LHR-EWR with 787s.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Sean M. Diamond

Air India didn't just "try" the London-NYC route. They operated it continuously for nearly 50 years!

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Anthony Parr Guest

I actually prefer Gatwick over Heathrow since rail connections to London and the South East are much better. I’d fly this route just for that reason. Nothing worse than arriving at Heathrow, walking what seems like 10 miles to the tube station, then sitting on the packed Piccadilly line for at least an hour.

1
Jacob Guest

There are plenty for direct to Delhi options to fly from USA. And if you're flying to another airport, then you will end up having 2 stops. Like BLR, HYD, COK etc, it's possible to fly while stopping only once with Emirates, AI, Etihad , QA etc.

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