Singapore Airlines says that its India unit, Vistara, plans to launch international operations in the second half of 2018.

At an analyst briefing, SIA Group chief executive Goh Choon Phong adds that Vistara will receive its 20th aircraft by the end of the current financial year, which ends on 30 March.

He also says that the carrier is expecting two more aircraft to be delivered in mid-2018, which will be mainly put on international services.

Vistara previously told FlightGlobal that they will be leased Airbus A320neos, bringing its total fleet to 22.

Goh, however, declined to reveal Vistara's first international destination, except saying that it will be announced by the carrier "in due course".

Vistara has brought forward aircraft deliveries by three months in a bid to launch its international operations earlier.

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that Vistara currently has 13 A320ceos and three A320neos, with another four of the re-engined variant on order. It was originally scheduled to take delivery of its 20th aircraft in June 2018.

Vistara has made its aspiration to fly overseas well known since its launch in 2015. The relaxation of the "5/20 rule" in 2016, which previously permitted Indian carriers to fly internationally only after having a five-year operating history and a fleet of 20 aircraft, will allow Vistara to start international flights earlier.

Vistara has said that it is confident that the way forward is for the airline to go on to long-haul international routes, as it seeks to move away from an intense low-cost competition at home.

“The longer you fly, the low-cost advantage starts to dissipate,” said outgoing chief executive Yeoh Phee Teik in a previous interview with FlightGlobal. “You have to fly to the major airports where the costs are high for everybody and you have to serve food. That’s where having premium economy and business class cabins are attractive.”

Source: Cirium Dashboard