Air India-Vistara Merger Picks Up Steam – India Report

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The merger of Air India and Vistara combines India’s two full-service carriers, creating the only domestic full-service airline.

The merging of Air India and Vistara seems ahead of schedule, according to reports in Indian media that cite Air India CEO Campbell Wilson’s comments at a town hall meeting with the employees.

The timeline now looks like end of this year – it was previously expected to be complete by mid-2025. 

Just six weeks ago, pilots of Vistara protested against the new pay structure. Together, the airlines have over 23,000 employees. 

Why is the merger important? The merger of Air India and Vistara combines India’s only two full-service carriers, creating the only domestic full-service airline. Air India and Vistara are the second- and third-largest market shareholders in India, respectively, after IndiGo. In the first quarter of 2024, the two airlines collectively held a 22.5% market share, DGCA data showed.

The move was decided upon after the Tata group acquired Air India from the government of India in 2022. As a part of the process, Singapore Airlines agreed to purchase a 25.1% stake in Air India. Singapore Airlines is Tata’s partner in Tata SIA Airlines Limited, a joint venture that operates as Vistara. 

The merger progress so far: According to a PTI report, Wilson and Vistara CEO Vinod Kannan held the meeting for over an hour on Monday. They shared that over 7,000 employees have been assessed and their roles and responsibilities would be clear by the end of June. 

Both the airlines have also finalized the organization structure of the merged entity, taking into account the plans for fleet expansion, network growth, and enhanced service.  

The merger will allow passengers to access more options and choices across the worldwide network of the combined airline, Campbell said. He added that the combined Air India group will have a vision of an accelerated growth path and stable financial situation, an issue that plagued the airline when it was operated by the government. 

While both India and Singapore competition regulators have given their approvals to the merger, it is awaiting a nod from the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in India. The hearing by the tribunal in the matter has been concluded and a final decision is now pending. 

Akasa Air Adds Jeddah as Second International Destination to its Network

Budget airline Akasa Air has announced its plans to expand international operations with Jeddah as the second international destination. The airline will operate daily direct flights between Mumbai and Jeddah starting July 15, it said in a statement. 

This frequency will be increased to 12 weekly flights between the two cities from July 21. The airline will also operate two direct flights a week between Jeddah and Ahmedabad from July 20. 

Akasa Air launched operations to Doha as its first international destination in March and it has also received the traffic rights for Kuwait and Riyadh.

In an interview last week with Skift, co-founder and chief commercial officer Praveen Iyer said, “We had been granted flying rights to Qatar, a couple of points in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Each of these countries are constrained for capacity, and were therefore interesting markets.”

For future route selection, the airline will consider factors such as aircraft capabilities, capacity constraints, bilateral availability, and network connectivity, the co-founder added.

Royal Orchid Launches Largest All-Suite Five Star Hotel in Gujarat

Royal Orchid Hotels has announced the launch of the largest all-suite 5-star hotel in Gujarat. The 288-suite hotel is called ‘The World’ and marks the company’s entry into Surat. 

“We are excited to announce our very first hotel in Surat. ‘The World’ is our contribution to the vision of transforming Surat and bringing the country to the forefront of the global diamond trade,” said chairman Chander K Baljee. 

The hotel chain, which has more than 100 hotels in its portfolio, has plans to add over 30 new properties in the 2024-25 financial year, marking an addition of about 2,000 keys. It is also planning to launch a new upscale hotel brand.

Leisure Hotels Group Opens Boutique Hotel in Vrindavan

Experiential resort chain Leisure Hotels Group has opened a boutique hotel in Vrindavan, marking its entry into the city. The 42-key Brij Eternity is a part of the chain’s presence in spiritual cities in north India. 

The hotel group is planning to have 100 operational properties by 2030. As part of its expansion, the chain launched a distinctive lifestyle concept accommodation – Bedzzz earlier this year. This was followed by the launch of its social hotel (sociotel) concept venture Bedzzz Xclusive in Goa. 

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