Vistara Targets Middle East Growth
Dammam will become the second destination in Saudi Arabia to be served by Indian carrier Vistara, the joint venture between Singapore Airlines and the Tata Group.
The airline is expanding its network to the Middle East country from March, adding to its inaugural route between Mumbai (BOM) and Jeddah (JED) that launched in August 2022.
Flights between Mumbai and Dammam (DMM) will begin on March 1 using Airbus A320neo aircraft. The 2,498-km (1,349-nm) sector will be served daily.
“Integral to the Saudi Vision 2030, Dammam is a key administrative destination that is home to the largest port in the Gulf and some of the major business headquarters,” Vistara CEO Vinod Kannan said.
The Saudi Vision 2030 is a framework to reduce the country’s dependence on oil and diversify its economy, with aviation a core pillar of the strategy. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman believes the kingdom has the potential to become global aviation hub with investments of $100 billion by the year 2030.
Vistara will face competition in the Mumbai-Dammam market from IndiGo, which serves the cities daily using A320s, as well as from Flynas, which offers a 4X-weekly A320neo service.
Prior to the pandemic, India’s Jet Airways had been the sole operator to connect the destinations nonstop, but the grounding of the airline has opened the door to new entrants.
Air India served the market from summer 2020 but ended flights when LCC IndiGo commenced operations in March 2022. Flynas then launched its BOM-DMM route in December 2022.
Earlier this week, Vistara reported year-on-year growth of 37% in capacity and 47% in passenger numbers during the third quarter of 2022. New routes launched during the year included flights from Mumbai to Muscat (MCT) in Oman.
Data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser shows that the airline is offering about 318,500 weekly seats across its network during the week commencing Jan. 23, compared with 233,000 at this time three years ago.
In November, owners Singapore Airlines and the Tata Group announced an agreement to merge Vistara into Air India, which is also owned by Tata Group. They aim to complete the merger by March 2024.
Alongside the new route to Dammam, Vistara has announced plans to restart operations between Mumbai and Colombo (CMB) with daily flights from March 1 after a hiatus of nearly three years.