Vistara, the joint venture of Tata group and Singapore Airlines, in its industry-leading efforts to ensure the highest standards of safety on board, on Wednesday operated India’s first flight with pilots and cabin crew fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The special flight UK963 on June 16, 2021 departed Delhi at 8.50 a.m. and arrived in Mumbai at 11.10 a.m., operated by crew that have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Vistara Plans More Flights
The crew also operating the return flight, UK 960, from Mumbai at 11.55 a.m. and reached Delhi at 2.05 p.m. Vistara plans to operate more such flights in the coming days as their number of fully vaccinated staff increases.
Vinod Kannan, Chief Commercial Officer, Vistara, said, “Vaccination is the best known defence against the pandemic that is helping the world get back to normalcy, subsequently aiding the recovery of the aviation industry.”
Mr. Kannan informed that Vistara had been consistently getting our staff vaccinated in our endeavour to ensure safety for them, their families and our customers whom they serve.
The special flight was operated by Vistara’s fully vaccinated cabin crew and pilots is a sign of our continued commitment towards making ‘flying feel safe again’.”
The airline recently announced that it had got nearly 100% of its eligible employees vaccinated with at least their first doses. This included Vistara’s airport and corporate staff, cabin crew and pilots.
Vistara continues to ramp up its efforts to ensure all eligible employees receive their second doses as well in time, and are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at the earliest.
US Flight Plans
Recently Vistara secured the US government’s license to operate international flights, the airline confirmed. It will be some time before the airline launches its flights to the US.
“We confirm that Vistara has reached out to the relevant authorities in the United States of America to secure permissions to commence operations to the US. While we have received the temporary Foreign Air Carrier permit from the Department of Transportation, USA, the process is still ongoing. We shall be sharing further details at an appropriate time,” an airline spokesperson was quoted by The Hindu said.
With this announcement, the US is set to be the fourth long-haul destination after London, Frankfurt, Tokyo — all taking off in a span of less than a year — despite a subdued travel demand and restrictions due to COVID-19. Flights to Tokyo commence from June 16.
The airline has two Boeing 787-9s in its fleet that enable it to fly non-stop on long-haul routes. It is likely to add a third one soon.
In addition to vaccines, Vistara has undertaken various employee-centric initiatives to extend support during the pandemic. This included creating a special cross-functional taskforce to help employees with all COVID-related medical assistance for themselves and their families.
“These initiatives also include paid leaves for recovery from COVID-19 for all affected employees, support with home hospitalisation, availability of critical resources like medicines and oxygen support, COVID-19 testing, doctor consultations for timely medical care and if needed, cabs as a makeshift ambulance for employee or their families,” the airline had said.
As per the airline, the vaccination drive went beyond employees. It was extended to family members of employees, off-roll staff like ground handlers, as well as colleagues from Singapore Airlines and other partner airlines.
“Recognising the crucial role of vaccination in containing the spread of COVID-19, we have taken a multi-pronged approach to facilitate vaccination for our employees,” the airline said.
Vistara is a joint-venture between Tata Sons Limited and Singapore Airlines Limited (SIA) with Tata Sons holding the majority stake of 51% in the company and SIA holding the remaining 49%.
The airline commenced its commercial operations on January 9, 2015 with an aim to set new standards in the aviation industry in India and it today connects destinations across India and abroad.
The airline has a fleet of 47 aircraft, including 36 Airbus A320, threes Airbus A321neo, six Boeing B737-800NG, and two Boeing B787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, and has flown more than 22 million customers since starting operations.