Non-public flying might attain a brand new excessive amid Covid-19
When air traffic effectively ceased in India in March, private jet operators feared the worst and believed the pandemic would decimate their businesses. On the contrary, many have held their own surprisingly well. Delhi-based entrepreneur Kanika Tekriwal, who operates JetSetGo Aviation, a private aircraft aggregator company, has seen an increase in inquiries since flight resumed. “Now we get around 20 inquiries a day. Of these, over 70% are new customers. In March, just before the lockdown was announced, we saw a nine-fold increase in demand, but were only able to meet 50% of the requests, mainly because regulations in the countries kept changing overnight. During the lockdown, which was being carried out in different parts of the world, there were 10 to 12 requests a day to get people stuck in different parts of the world home, ”said Tekriwal, CEO and founder of JetSetGo Aviation.
Similarly, Santosh K Sharma, co-founder and CEO of Foresee Aviation, a professional private jet and helicopter aggregator, has made 30 to 40 inquiries per day in both the domestic and international sectors and hopes that number will increase at some point. “First-time private flying guests would recognize the importance of safe and tailored travel. In these unprecedented times, fast, efficient and flexible aviation comes to the fore. The ability to fly anywhere and anytime and get home quickly is priceless, ”says Sharma, who is also the founder of the soon-to-be-launched Book My Jet private bookings app.
Charter gives you the opportunity to fly at will, skip stopovers and reach your destination directly, which saves a lot of time. Add to this a personalized VIP service, onboard social distancing, a hassle-free security check and the scenario becomes extremely appealing. “The various points of contact during the trip are reduced and make private flying cheap. For example, commercial jets have more than 200 points of contact at the airport, while private jets only have 30. Hence the preference, ”explains Tekriwal.
The pandemic has paved the way for new trends when consumer behavior changes, said Pritish Shah, founder and CEO of A Travel Circle, a custom luxury vacation brand based in Delhi. “We see two segments of private jet users – the wealthiest segment that has always been exposed to this lifestyle, and an interesting segment of business and first-class travelers … mostly first-time users in the jet charter segment. Instead of trying to charter the entire aircraft, they usually buy a few seats on a charter heading to a recreational destination. The concept of pooling on jets could be the new way of traveling, at least in the near future, ”he says.
With businesses stalled, most corporate executives are choosing to rent private jets to cover arrears, Foresee Aviation’s Sharma said. “Some charters are also available at a comparatively lower price (with 40% discounts), so it makes sense to go for these,” he adds.
The repatriation from Air Charter International, an aviation services company based in Dubai, has increased significantly. “To date, there are restrictions on entry into different countries, which has reduced the number of routinely operated flights. As a result, the demand for cargo and passenger repatriation has increased significantly in the past two months, ”said Stuart Wheeler, Founder and CEO, Air Charter International.
The conservative rich are advocating the idea of private charter flights, says Sachit Wadhwa of Mumbai, co-founder of Book My Charters, an air charter booking platform where over 70% of first-time flyers prefer to consult charter advisors to make a decision. “Charter is now driven by utility, not luxury. This has always been a large untapped market and it is now expected that demand will increase significantly in the future. Personalization is also important as you can choose to have an Indian meal like Dal Makhni in a European nation or watch a Bollywood movie upon request, ”says Wadhwa.
In August, Mumbai International Airport, which is managed by GVK and manages Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA), carried out the restart feedback survey to reconcile passengers’ needs and expectations after flight operations resumed. The survey of 1,386 Indian passengers found that passengers are eagerly awaiting the return to normal flight operations and looking forward to international leisure travel. Passengers were also found to be familiar with air travel in the new normal, as 98.4% of them flying to and from CSMIA found the airport safer than bus or train stations. Around 99.6% found air travel to be the most reliable means of transport. The survey also shows a change in the purpose of travel for passengers, with business travel gaining momentum.
In September, a new private jet terminal was inaugurated at Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) IGI. The terminal is a milestone in this segment exclusively for charter flights and offers the possibility of making up to 150 private jet movements in one day, including aircraft of the Code C type. It extends over eight square meters and has 57 parking spaces for private aircraft. The facility offers parking lots, passenger lounges, retail and F&B areas, a 24-hour concierge service, convenient access to the city, a shared processing area with customs and immigration, and direct access to private jet booths where each over 50 passengers can be handled hour.
“India’s civil aviation sector is expected to expand in a post-Covid world as more routes open and the number of passengers increases. We anticipate that most of the pre-Covid domestic passenger traffic will be brought back from Diwali. The new terminal is the need of the hour and it will greatly support this growth, ”said Minister of Civil Aviation, Hardeep Singh Puri.
Airlines like Air India and IndiGo fly to meet demand as part of the Vande Bharat Mission, which aims to repatriate Indians stranded overseas. From June to August, IndiGo operated more than 800 charter flights and repatriated 1.50 lakh passengers from the Gulf Cooperation Council, Southeast Asia, the Commonwealth of Independent States and SAARC countries. The airline conducted international flights from countries in the Middle East including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and from Asian countries such as the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong (a special administrative region of China), with Russia, Uzbekistan and the Philippines through This is the most recent addition to its international repatriation efforts. However, Air India officials said they would launch charter flights depending on the destination and increasing demand.
Experts say charter flights may see more demand in the coming days as HNIs want to travel alone or with family. “We operate several international charter flights every day, either as part of the Vande Bharat program or for individual companies and groups. The focus is increasingly on security, which increases the demand for direct and charter flights. From now on we will be flying around 60 to 70 charter flights a week (international and national), including all freight missions (basic supply), ”says Willy Boulter, Chief Commercial Officer of IndiGo.
Tata SIA Airlines Ltd, trading as Vistara, is currently exploring various alternative ways of generating revenue, including charter and all-cargo flights that are subject to securing business at a viable level. “We are committed to operating routes that are in demand and exploring opportunities under the bubble initiative. We’re already flying to Dubai as part of the program, ”says a Vistara spokesman.
Fees for a private jet vary based on the size of the aircraft and the length of the trip, starting at Rs 80,000 per hour for an eight-seat turboprop and 5 to 6 lakh per hour for a 16-seat jet, according to JetSetGo’s Tekriwal. Foresee Aviation’s Sharma thinks it’s unfair to differentiate between average ticket price and a private jet charter price, but a commercial-airline business class return ticket to Delhi-Mumbai-Delhi would cost between Rs 60,000 and Rs 60,000 1.40 lakh. However, renting a minimum seven-seater like a Cessna Citation II or a Cessna Citation Cj2 + would cost around 11 lakh to 19 lakh on an aircraft like the 10-seater Dassault Falcon 2000. An IndiGo charter could cost around 4 euros lakh per flight hour, which varies depending on the route, seat capacity and number of passengers. Vistara didn’t want to comment on pricing.
Things to note
· Advance booking is required to ensure all permissions, aircraft availability and a planned itinerary
· For first-time flyers in particular, it is advisable to check the offers offered by the operators
Carry photo ID and passport for international travel, as well as driver’s license, Aadhar and PAN cards for domestic travel
· Avoid sharp, flammable objects, etc.
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