Tata Group Advances Air India-Vistara Integration, Eyes Unified Airline by Year-End

The Tata Group is looking to speed up its efforts towards the consolidation efforts involving Air India and Vistara, aiming to operate them as a single entity by year-end. According to a report in the Economic Times, both airlines have initiated discussions with the civil aviation regulator and commenced the integration process by aligning their operations manuals and transitioning flying crews between them.

The move, as outlined in the report, seeks to streamline the conglomerate’s aviation business, consolidating the two carriers into a unified full-service airline. Notably, AirAsia India and Air India Express have already merged to form a single low-cost carrier.

A source familiar with the development emphasized the eagerness to expedite the merger, citing anticipated synergies and operational efficiencies. The report quoted the source, affirming the commitment of both Singapore Airlines and Tata Sons to swiftly conclude the integration process.

However, the exact timeline for integration hinges on regulatory approvals. While earlier announcements indicated that Vistara’s brand identity would remain unchanged until 2025, recent discussions suggest a potential acceleration of this timeline.

The report highlighted Air India’s anticipation of approval for the merger from the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) by the following week. Once granted, this approval would pave the way for the integration of networks, human resources, and fleet deployments.

Currently, both Air India and Vistara operate flights to similar destinations simultaneously, resulting in operational redundancies such as separate check-in counters. The merger aims to eliminate such duplications, streamlining operations for increased efficiency.

Consultants from firms like BCG, Sabre, and Oliver Wyman are reportedly engaged in harmonizing workforce and route networks for the two airlines. Additionally, the integration process entails converting the flying staff of Vistara, including pilots, through operator conversion courses spanning approximately 40 days.

It’s emphasized that the integration will be phased to ensure uninterrupted flight operations. Vistara’s CEO, Vinod Kannan, has indicated that clarity regarding roles for non-flying staff of both airlines is expected by May and June.

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