Vistara plans to rope in pilots on deputation from AirAsia India for its expanding A320 fleet

Full-service carrier Vistara is looking to rope in pilots on deputation from budget airline AirAsia India to ensure adequate crew for its expanding fleet of A320 planes, according to sources. Both airlines are part of the Tata group and the latest move indicates efforts to have more synergy as well as optimal use of manpower among group carriers.

Tata group also owns Air India and Air India Express. Vistara — a joint venture between the Tatas and Singapore Airlines — has a fleet of 53 aircraft. These include 41 A320s and five A321s. The airline is planning to increase the fleet to 70 planes by December 2023. AirAsia India operates a fleet of A320 planes.

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“Vistara has sought some pilots from AirAsia India on deputation given the induction of new aircraft, a proposal which the budget carrier has consented to,” one of the sources told PTI on condition of anonymity. Both Vistara and AirAsia India declined to comment on the matter.

Vistara plans to rope in pilots on deputation from AirAsia India for its expanding A320 fleet

According to the sources, Vistara has been expanding its Airbus fleet but does not have an adequate number of pilots to operate them.

“The airline was banking on the huge pool of pilots that was created due to the pandemic but the dynamics have completely changed now with several both serving and non-serving pilots taking flights to the Gulf airlines, which offer fatter pay packages besides other benefits,” one of the sources said.

The source also said Vistara had looked at hiring some pilots from a Mumbai-based low-cost airline but the plan did not work out due to notice period issues. Another source, on condition of anonymity, said even though AirAsia India has 27 planes in its fleet with around 400 pilots to operate them, the airline has not been operating more than 18-20 aircraft.

Vistara has been expanding its Airbus fleet but does not have an adequate number of pilots to operate them.

“With this much fleet in operations, an airline would not require more than 240-250 pilots. Since AirAsia India does not have plans to induct any new aircraft in the short term, more so amid the talks of its possible merger with Air India Express, it leaves around 150-160 pilots as surplus,” the source said.

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Further, the source said after receiving the Vistara proposal, AirAsia management left it to the decision of the pilots and then take a call on how many of them should be sent on deputation.

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Meanwhile, Tata group has started an exercise to evaluate options to consolidate AirAsia India and Vistara under Air India to bring operational synergies among the three airlines under its umbrella. Air India has set up a team under its Director of Operations R S Sandhu in this regard, sources had said earlier.

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