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NEW DELHI:Tata & Sons has returned to aviation with the launch of its airline joint venture (TSAL) with Singapore Airlines (SIA).

Scheduled to begin flying in October the airline, named Vistara, will take delivery of its first A320-200 next month and plans to increase its fleet to 20 aircraft in the next five years.

vistaraMukund Rajan, member of the Tata Group executive council said: "All of us at Tata are extremely pleased to have witnessed the coming together of all the elements that have led to the realisation of Vistara, a long cherished dream for the group that pioneered civil aviation in the country. The creation of a new full-service carrier is a matter of great pride for us."

Commenting on the significance of operating in India with Tata, Swee Wah Mak, director, TSAL and executive vice-president Commercial for Singapore Airlines added: "From a global investor's perspective the Indian aviation sector has a lot of potential for growth and I am delighted that SIA now has a fruitful role to play here."

The history of the Tata involvement in India's development of air transport began in In 1932 when Tata & Sons chairman J.R.D. Tata piloted the first Indian commercial flight of Tata Airlines; by 1946 it had become a public company and was renamed Air India; in 1953 Air India was nationalised and J.R.D Tata became chairman – a position he held until 1977. Between 1986 and 1989, TATA & Sons chairman Ratan N. Tata was also chairman of Air India.

Vistara chairman Prasad Menon said: "Today is a momentous day for the Tata group and Singapore Airlines. Vistara will redefine the way we travel in India. I can confidently say that Tata's and SIA's legendary hospitality standards and service excellence will make Vistara a natural choice."

In a related move SIA has received approval of its proposed alliance with Air New Zealand. The airline says it will lead to increased flight frequency between the two countries: Air New Zealand will fly Auckland-Singapore again and SIA will operate the A380 to New Zealand for the first time.

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