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Vistara to respond to CCI queries by month end, says CEO Vinod Kannan, ET Infra

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istara CEO Vinod Kannan on Monday said the airline will submit its response to the Competition Commission’s queries on the proposed merger with Air India by the end of this month and expressed confidence of receiving all regulatory approvals by early next year. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has sought more details on the merger of Vistara with Air India, a deal that was announced in November last year.

“There are certain questions that have been asked. We are going to give our response to the CCI by the end of this month. Then, the CCI will decide whether it needs to go to phase two or needs further clarification,” Kannan said here.

As per CCI norms, in case there are anti-competitive concerns, it can go for a detailed scrutiny which is generally called phase two of the approval process.

Kannan said Vistara is expecting to have all regulatory approvals in place by early next fiscal. “The merger with Air India is on track”.

The airline has applied for approval for the merger to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).

“We hope to get some response and approval by the end of the year… Our hope and expectation is that the approvals will come by March/ April next year. The closure of AOC (Air Operator’s Certificate) will come last,” Kannan said.

Post merger, Vistara brand will cease to exist.

According to Kannan, the airline has not stopped or pressed the pause button on its growth plans.

The recent launch of Mumbai-London flight is an example. The airline will be adding 10 more planes, including 3 B-787s in the fleet by March 2024, he said.

” The current fleet stands at 60. We will expand to Europe with these planes,” Kannan noted.

He also said the airline made an operating profit in the December quarter of FY23 and that the June quarter of this fiscal has also been good. “We are not looking at any additional capital infusion”.

In November 2022, Tata Group announced the merger of Vistara with Air India under a deal wherein Singapore Airlines will also acquire a 25.1 per cent stake in Air India.

The deal will make Air India the country’s largest international carrier and second-largest domestic airline.

Vistara is a joint venture between Tata Group, which holds 51 per cent stake, and the remaining shareholding is with Singapore Airlines.

The approval from the CCI for the merger was sought in April this year. The parties to the combination are Tata Sons Pvt Ltd (TSPL), Air India Ltd, Tata SIA Airlines Ltd (TSAL) and Singapore Airlines Ltd.

Deals beyond a certain threshold require clearance from the CCI, which promotes fair competition and also keeps a tab on anti-competitive business practices.

On July 7, Air India CEO and MD Campbell Wilson welcomed the CCI seeking more information on the merger and said it is a “normal and important part of the evaluation process”.

  • Published On Jul 18, 2023 at 08:01 AM IST

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