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Air India, Vistara Airlines to merge by year end

News Agencies

 

Mumbai: Air India is targeting the completion of Vistara’s merger with itself by the end of this year and integration of over 7,000 employees will start from June in phases, as the Tata group airlines push for a rapid transition to one full-service carrier under the Air India brand. In a town hall meeting on Monday, the chief executives of Air India and Vistara presented the staff with updates on the merger, according to sources in the know.

This timeline given by the Air India group leadership is earlier than what was stated previously. In January, Vistara’s chief executive officer (CEO) Kannan had said that the Air India-Vistara merger was likely to be completed by the middle of next year. Kannan is also the chief integration officer at the Air India group.

The Air India-Vistara merger has received most of the requisite regulatory approvals, including nods from competition watchdogs of India and Singapore. The hearings for approval before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) have concluded and the order is awaited, and the application for approval of Singapore Airlines (SIA) in the merged entity has also been filed. SIA, which owns 49 per cent stake in Vistara, will hold a 25.1 per cent stake in the merged Air India.

Apart from merging Air India and Vistara, the group is also in the process of merging its budget carriers Air India Express and AIX Connect (formerly AirAsia India). Once both the mergers are complete, the Air India group will have a full-service carrier Air India and a low-cost airline Air India Express.

Air India’s CEO Campbell Wilson and Vistara CEO Vinod Kannan informed employees that while the last of the necessary approvals are expected soon, the operational process harmonisation exercise is progressing well, it is learnt. According to sources, the two airlines have operationalised an integrated pilot upgrade sequence for group level career progress opportunities for the flight crew, and around 120 pilots have already been seconded between Air India and Vistara.

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