Vistara to soon let you keep adjacent seat vacant by booking it at discount

NEW DELHI: Vistara will soon let you book the adjacent seat to keep it vacant for flying in these pandemic times, for a discount. Vinod Kannan, the full service carrier’s chief commercial officer (CCO), said the airline has started this practice in the offline mode where two seats can be booked together by a passenger — one for being kept vacant — through travel agents but at the normal price for two seats.
“As of now it is being charged like another seat. But we are going to incentivise it by offering a discount for the second seat someone is buying to keep it vacant. That is in the works,” Kannan said.
The Tata Sons-Singapore Airlines JV conducted a survey of its customers to find out how they felt about flying again since partial operations resumed on May 25. Nearly 6,000 customers responded.
The top three concerns that emerged about flying again in the survey were: The fear of exposure through the journey; fellow passengers not following health and safety protocols and anticipated higher fares. Almost 70% of the respondents had confidence in the steps taken by the airline to ensure a safe travel.
The survey saw business emerging as the biggest reason for them to travel, with 35% of the respondents indicating so, while 25% of the respondents expected to travel to visit friends and relatives.
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Vistara used to operate 200 flights daily before the lockdown. Domestic schedule flights were allowed to resume om May 25 and the airline is now operating 30 to 50 flights daily on an average, with weekends seeing more flights. “We are utilising one-third of our fleet. The aircraft are 50-60% full with about 90 passengers per flight on an average. Almost 60-70% passengers now book 5 to 7 days before date of travel (due to the uncertainty around travel with different states coming up with new norms),” he said.
The post pandemic trend of majority of flights witnessing directional traffic — more passengers one way than on return — continues even now. “Flights to the east and secondary and tertiary cities are seeing better passenger loads. Due to this, we recently started a Mumbai-Patna flight that we did not have before,” the CCO said.
Vistara will be getting its second wide body Boeing 787 Dreamliner this month. Depending on international travel opening up, it could deploy the two planes for regular medium haul flights. A survey of its travellers by the airline has shown Singapore, UK and Dubai as the places as the top three destinations for their next international trip.
“Deploying the B787s on schedule flights depends on the travel norms and rules. We will be open to use the aircraft for Vande Bharat Mission and charter flights also till that can happen,” he said.
“20% of the survey respondents planned to take their next flight to a destination outside of India. Singapore, UK and Dubai were named most often as the destinations for the respondents’ next international trip, followed by the US and Thailand. Three of these five international destinations are already part of Vistara’s international network, which the airline plans to expand to other countries in and outside the continent as it inducts new narrow-body and wide-body aircraft,” Vistara said in a statement.

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