Vistara has begun flights to Saudi Arabia, the second country in the Middle East that it serves after the UAE. It started from Mumbai to Jeddah, the 12th-largest market between India and the Middle East this month. In 2019, it had 360,309 roundtrip passengers, or nearly 500 passengers daily each way (PDEW).
The 2,190 miles (3,524km) between Mumbai and Jeddah now has another operator. Vistara runs on Tuesdays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays, with its first flight on August 2nd. It is scheduled as follows, with all times local. (Note that the first flight from Jeddah is on August 3rd, not the 2nd.)
- Mumbai to Jeddah: UK235, 18:05-20:50 (block time 5h 15m)
- Jeddah to Mumbai: UK236, 21:50-05:30+1 (5h 10m)
It uses 164-seat A320neos on the route, the lowest number of seats of any aircraft type or variant in its fleet. These have eight business class seats, 24 in premium economy, and 132 in economy. The first flight to Jeddah, which Flightradar24 shows took 4h 18m, used VT-TNU, a 2.7-year-old aircraft.
Vistara serves Jeddah 3x weekly. Photo: via Swissport.
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What Vistara’s CEO said
Speaking at the launch, Vinod Kannan, Vistara’s CEO, said:
Given the multitude of upcoming futuristic projects in Saudi Arabia, strong trade ties with India, and the presence of a large Indian diaspora, there is growing traffic between the two countries.
The first flight arrived in Jeddah at 20:02, 48 minutes early. Photo: Flightradar24.
The sixth airline
Vistara is the sixth airline on the airport pair. It joins Air India, Air India Express, IndiGo, Saudia, and SpiceJet. In the week beginning August 15th, there are 31 weekly flights, with between three and six each day. Flights are broken down as follows:
- Saudi: 9x weekly; B777-300ER
- Indigo: 1x daily; A321neo
- Air India: 1x daily; A320neo
- SpiceJet: 3x weekly; B737-800
- Vistara: 3x weekly; A320neo
- Air India Express: 2x weekly
In the equivalent mid-August week in 2019, there were 24 flights. There were services by Air India, IndiGo, Saudia, and SpiceJet. Between them, they had 12,740 roundtrip seats for sale that week. That has now risen to 15,466, up by 21%, helped by the recent introduction of Air India Express and now Vistara.
Vistara is the sixth airline between Mumbai and Jeddah. Photo: via Vistara.
Vistara’s second Middle East route
According to OAG data, the Middle East has just 15% of Vistara’s international flights this month, while wider Asia is 66% and Europe 18%. In contrast, the Middle East is overwhelmingly the leading international region for IndiGo (72%), SpiceJet (70%), and of course Air India Express (96%). Then there’s Air India (50%) and Go First (50%).
Not surprisingly, Kannan recently said that “We are evaluating many other destinations in the region and will be launching new routes in due course.”
Indeed, Mumbai-Jeddah is only Vistara’s second route to the region. It joins Mumbai to Dubai, which launched in August 2019 and is now served 1x daily. However, it has previously served Delhi to Dubai, Doha, and Sharjah, and Mumbai to Doha and Sharjah. As it seems these were all part of air bubbles that existed during the pandemic, they don’t really count in a normal sense.
Where would you like Vistara to serve in the Middle East? Let us know in the comments.