Where there's money, there's a way – charter flight bookings jump as India's wealthy seek private and safe travel

Representative imageBCCL
  • Charter flights and private jets come to the rescue of the rich even though they cost lakhs per hour.
  • Family reunions have been a major cause for the booking of charter flights.
  • Even companies that had the means to fly privately, but had previously eschewed it, are now looking at the option due to its safety, hygiene, and convenience factor.
COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. The way we live, eat, work, and even travel. While flying may have resumed gradually with India opening up routes both locally and with air bubbles internationally, the concerns around ‘safe travel’ remains. No more hustle and bustle at the airports or jostling in the queues at the check-in counter, and the only airport look that works right now is a PPE kit, complete with a mask and face shield.

While travel until now was limited to emergencies and business purposes, India’s elite are looking at ways where they see minimal interaction with the crowds at the otherwise busy airports. And so, charter flights and private jets have come to the rescue of the rich even as they cost lakhs per hour.

With the reopening of the economy, travel booking platforms are seeing a rise in demand for charter flights. “Earlier, we used to get 10-12 requests in a week, now that’s the number of requests we receive in a day. In the past one month, we have booked 15-20 international charter flights,” said Nishant Pitti, founder of EaseMyTrip.

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Similar spike in demand was seen at JetSetGo, an aviation startup that specializes in bookings of helicopters and charter flights. While business has bounced back for them, its yet to reach pre-COVID levels. “Just before the lockdown was announced, the demand surge was nine-fold but we were only able to fulfil 50-60% due to various regulations which kept changing overnight within countries,” Kanika Tekriwal, CEO & Founder, JetSetGo Aviation told Business Insider.

Top route requests within India

Kolkata – AhmedabadMumbai – HyderabadMumbai – KolkataDelhi – PuneVijayawada – DelhiKolkata – Ahmedabad

Top international destination requests
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DelhiThailandSingapore

Price for charter flight booking

AircraftSeating CapacityHourly booking cost
King Air B2006 pax80,000
Hawker 7508 pax2,50,000
Hawker 850 XP8 pax2,50,000
Citation XLS8 pax2,50,000
Falcon 20009 pax3,50,000
Source: JetSetGo

While family reunions have been the major cause of booking for charter flights, Tekriwal also shared that people and companies that had the means to fly privately, but had previously eschewed it, are now looking at the option due to its safety, hygiene and convenience factor.
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In fact, corporates too are asking for group bookings. “Earlier, they used to ask for airline group codes, which we used to get and give the consumer but now their query is shifted to charter flights or booking full flights,” said Pitti.

While leisure travel is slowly picking up, the big fat Indian weddings remain a source of business as families ensure that 'baraatis' are travelling safely. Pitti said that they have gotten requests for charter flight bookings for weddings in Udaipur as well.

The demand for these can soon go up as the special terminal for private jets at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi is also reportedly ready for use but is awaiting security approvals for operation.
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