The CEO of Vistara (UK, Delhi International) is confident that the airline can satisfactorily address anti-trust issues raised by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and that its merger with Air India (AI, Delhi International) remains on track to finalise in April 2024.

CEO Vinod Kannan confirmed to media in Mumbai on July 17 that the CCI had sought additional information in June, issuing a show-cause notice and giving the parties 30 days to respond. "There are certain questions that have been asked," said Kannan. "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."

If Vistara and Air India fail to address the CCI's concerns adequately, the competition watchdog may proceed to a more detailed phase 2 investigation. However, less than 5% of merger applications require that kind of scrutiny.

"The merger with Air India is on track," added Kannan. "We are on track to receive regulatory approvals from the CCI, and the National Company Law Tribunal, among others... We hope and expect the approvals to come by March or April of next year. The closure of the air operator's certificate will come last."

Speaking to aviation blogger Sam Chui recently, Kannan said that until both airlines secure the merger clearance, "Vistara will continue as it is by adding more flights and taking more aircraft." He says the Vistara aircraft and their cabin products will transition to the integrated entity when the merger concludes. "These (Vistara) products will continue, and the same team will take on the mantle of developing similar products for the integrated entity.

Kannan confirmed all Vistara employees would transition to the merged airline entity, and that process was already underway. He also said he expects another 11 aircraft to deliver "in the next 12 months or so," a combination of B787s, A320neo, and A321neo. "The intention is to deploy most of these onto international routes."