Friday, March 27, 2020

As lockdown loomed, India's rich scrambled to fly kids home from abroad

New Delhi: On March 16, a Falcon 2000 jet touched down at Mumbai Airport. Onboard were two young women in their late teens. Both, children of business families in the city, flown in from London. Both had been transferred from their universities in two separate towns to the airport in London. Two sets of parents in Mumbai had arranged for the flight to bring the girls home.

What their parents would have forked out for the flight back? About Rs 90 lakh.

The two teens were among several who arrived in a two-week period from March 8-21.

As the Covid-19 crisis dramatically intensified earlier this month and it became clear that Indian airspace could go into lockdown at any time, India's rich rushed to hire luxury private jets to fly children studying abroad back home.

Over two weeks before inbound commercial flights were stopped by the government on March 21, as many as 102 private charter flights ferried children home from their universities in the United Kingdom and Europe, mostly France, Germany and Switzerland.

The aircraft enlisted for these flights included top-end luxury jets like the Dassault Falcon 2000, Bombardier Challenger series and Hawker business aircraft. And these were organised by just one aviation firm.

A further 31 biz jet flights transported elders, mostly parents of businessmen, between Tier 2 and Tier 1 cities like Delhi and Mumbai during those two weeks.
27/03/20 Shiv Aroor/India Today
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