Air India and Vistara have a joint presence on 48 origin-destination pairs, or 96 routes, according to the Competition Commission of India’s evaluation of the deployment of both air traffic and seat capacity for 2022–2023.
Travel portals data reviewed by Mint reveals that 22 out of these 48 pairs, offer flights by both the full-service carriers, including Mumbai-Trivandrum, Mumbai-Cochin, Jammu-Delhi, Jammu-Srinagar, Delhi-Varanasi, Delhi-Udaipur, Delhi-Patna, besides the metro-metro connections like Kolkata-Delhi, Delhi-Hyderabad, Mumbai-Chennai, Delhi-Chennai, among others.
24 origin-destination pairs with overlapping operations by Air India, Air India Express, Vistara, and Singapore Airlines were classified by the CCI’s assessment as being international.
14 of these origin-destination combinations are served by Air India and Vistara, according to a Mint analysis of the airline networks. In addition, three Tata Group airlines—Singapore Airlines, Air India, and Vistara—operate the Delhi-Singapore and Mumbai-Singapore route pairs.
The Vistara-Air India merger was authorized by the CCI on September 1. On domestic routes like Bhubaneswar-Delhi, Bengaluru-Guwahati, Cochin-Delhi, Delhi-Trivandrum, Amritsar-Delhi, Bhubaneswar-Mumbai, and Delhi-Bengaluru, where its capacity fluctuates from 45% to 75%, Air India voluntarily decided to maintain minimum capacity. In some cases where capacity share exceeds 50% on foreign lines, it also pledged to reduce capacity.
“Since we have obtained competition clearance, we may jointly plan the network once we have obtained clearance from other jurisdictions. Internal competition can be prevented. We can space out the flights so that customers have more options and a better mix of schedules than if we flew parallel to Frankfurt or London. In a complementing rather than a competitive sense, it would function as two independent businesses, according to Air India CEO Campbell Wilson’s comments to Mint earlier this week.
The airline has also announced that it will run the combined Air India Express and AirAsia India entity under a low-cost business model for the bulk of the domestic network. As a result, a redesign of the airline’s local and international network is anticipated over the next months.
Separately, a glimpse of the air traffic analysis of 2022–2023 (Apr–Mar) provided by the Competition Commission of India’s recent order has also shed light on the fierce competition among domestic players, showing that the current field of combat has essentially been reduced to three players: the Air India group, IndiGo, and Akasa Air.
A good example is the Delhi-Pune route, where the Air India group holds between 40 and 45% of the market share in terms of seats deployed, followed by IndiGo with 30 to 35%, Go First with 15-20%, and SpiceJet with 10-15%. Following the insolvency proceedings at Go First this year, IndiGo’s position on the route has increased to more than 40%, while Akasa, a new entrant, has taken up 5% of the market and SpiceJet is only allowed to operate with a 10% share.
Similar to this, on the Mumbai-Delhi route, the Air India group airlines held a 40–45% stake, followed by IndiGo at 30–35%, Go First at 15-20%, and SpiceJet at 5–10%. Currently, SpiceJet’s stake has remained at roughly 6% while IndiGo’s share has increased to almost 40% and Akasa has entered the race with a stake of almost 6%.