Full-service airline Vistara will acquire six Boeing 737 aircraft from grounded airline Jet Airways marking a first for the airline, which until now flew a homogenous fleet of 22 Airbus A320 planes. Vistara has also stepped in to recruit Jet Airways cabin crew, who have not received salaries for months. Until now, only budget airlines SpiceJet and IndiGo have been aggressively recruiting Jet staff and taking over Jet Airways' flight slots.
Vistara's acquisition of Boeing aircraft opens its doors to distressed pilots and engineers of Jet Airways whose options until now were limited to SpiceJet. "Vistara will undertake a short differences training for pilots, crew and engineers to comply with Vistara's standards and will be in operation soon," MonetyControl said citing a senior industry executive.
IndiGo and SpiceJet have been aggressively expanding their network and adding capacity after Jet Airways suspended operations on April 17, according to the report. The low-cost airlines have added nearly 100 flights in three months, SpiceJet took over 27 aircraft from Jet Airways to augment its fleet.
Vistara added 14 new flights in April, mostly from Mumbai, to meet the peak summer demand. It will now seek to take over airport slots that belonged to Jet Airways and which the government is re-allotting to other airlines. The government has said its primary concern is to keep the fares in check by operating as many flights as possible. The airline has scheduled walk-in interviews to hire cabin crew in Mumbai this week and expects to recruit Jet Airways staff.
Industry observers say the entry of Vistara will be helpful to Jet Airways' employees, who stare at an uncertain future, and have taken huge pay cuts when moving to the limited number of airlines prepared to accept them. The employees will now have more options, with Vistara also looking to add to its fleet, increase flights and up its market share, according to a report.
Meanwhile, the four potential investors that the State Bank of India (SBI)-led lenders' consortium has selected for running the airline as part of a debt resolution plan are expected to submit their bids by May 10. Jet Airways' strategic partner the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Etihad Airways, which holds 24 per cent stake in the defunct airline, is the only airline that has submitted a non-binding expression of interest (EoI).
Industry observers are keenly watching the financial bid that Etihad would submit by May 10. The lenders, who control up to 51 per cent stake in Naresh Goel-founded Jet Airways, have offered up to 75 per cent stake in the airline to the successful bidder. The other bidders are the state-owned investment promotion entity National Investment and Industrial Fund (NIIF), and US-based private equity firms TPG Capital and Indigo Partners, which has major stakes in two American airlines.