The latest Wi-Fi service may be offered in both international and domestic routes/Bloombergby Bloomberg
Vistara, the Indian affiliate of Singapore Airlines, will become the country’s first carrier to offer in-flight WiFi and streaming services on its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners, in what could boost its ambitions as a premium airline in one of the world’s busiest markets.
Vinod Kannan, Vistara Chief Strategy Officer, said that passengers will be able to access sites like Facebook and WhatsApp, as well as live-stream cricket matches, by far the most popular sport in India.
Singapore Airlines hopes Vistara will help loosen the grip Emirates airline and Etihad Airways have over lucrative routes between India and Europe and the US, as intensifying competition from budget carriers eats into its home market in Southeast Asia.
The Singaporean company warned of significant challenges because of the coronavirus outbreak and this week it announced it will suspend scores of flights in its global network because of weak demand.
Vistara will receive the first of its six ordered Dreamliners later this month and is considering adding more planes as it embarks on an aggressive expansion plan in overseas markets. The carrier, a joint venture between Singapore Airlines and Tata Group, started flying in 2015 and currently operates 32 Airbus A320s and seven Boeing 737s.
Vistara projects itself as a premium product in a market dominated by low-cost carriers like InterGlobe Aviation’s IndiGo, though it has cut back on some frills and business-class seats. A partnership between Panasonic Avionics and Nelco is providing satellite connectivity services to customers flying into India and over Indian airspace.
The carrier is set to be its first client and Kannan said that it will also offer WiFi on Airbus A321 jets it has on order.
The latest WiFi service may be offered in both international and domestic routes—Vistara flies to 36 destinations with more than 200 flights a day—on planes equipped with the technology, said Kannan.