Indian airline Vistara has plans to start direct flights to the United States on hold, citing disruptions in deliveries of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliners.
The joint venture carrier between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines had been eyeing the launch of direct scheduled passenger services between India and the United States, but the ongoing delivery disruptions means that the airline would face a gap in the capacity it would need to fly to the destination, the airline’s chief executive (CEO) Vinod Kannan said.
According to Kannan, the Gurugram-based air carrier will now only serve international routes which require fewer planes. This includes London (LHR), Paris (CDG), and Frankfurt (FRA). Meanwhile, non-stop flights from India to the US could be launched at a later date, Kannan added.
“We were discussing the US at one stage. […] We have had to put that on hold after the fact that the Boeing 787s are going to be interspersed and not coming in at the same time,” the CEO said during a press conference on January 25, 2023, as per a report by The Economic Times India.
The CEO outlined that daily operations would be resource-consuming, hinting that the airline could currently be lacking widebody airliners.
According to the Planespotters.com registry, Vistara currently has three Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners in its fleet. The first two planes joined the airline in February and August 2020, while the latest Dreamliner was delivered in November 2022.
The carrier has four more 787-9s on order with Boeing, with delivery expected to take place by March 2024. However, the time frame is not yet clear.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) temporarily halted the certification process of
Dreamliners in May 2021 due to multiple production defects found on the newly built planes. Meanwhile, air carriers that had already been flying the type were allowed to continue safe operations.
In 2020 the FAA initiated an investigation into Boeing’s production shortfalls related to the shims that fill the gaps between fuselage sections and the smoothness of the inner fuselage skin. While individually these issues do not pose a danger, the combination of the two could lead to potential structural failures on the 787 Dreamliner.
The US regulator allowed the manufacturer to resume aircraft deliveries in August 2022. But due to labor shortages and global supply chain constraints, Boeing has been struggling to return to previous Dreamliner production rates.