Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Expensive but exclusive: Private charters take off amid Covid-19 fears

New Delhi: With the pandemic grounding the aviation sector like never before, private charter services are emerging as a green shoot. Even as flying has resumed, it’s still quite restricted and stressful. No wonder then that nine private jets have landed in Goa in the past fortnight, as per airport officials, with the state emerging among the top destinations for the well-heeled who either own second homes there or are leasing private villas to spend leisure time with families. Most of the flights come from Mumbai and Delhi, India’s two worst-affected cities, adds an airport official.

According to Sachit Wadhwa, Founder and CEO, Book My Charters, “There has been a surge of 60 per cent in charter inquiries since lockdown; most of these flights are one-way and originate in Mumbai and Delhi. Goa is currently one of the top destinations for private charters, and there is a constant demand for the Delhi-Goa and Mumbai-Goa routes.”

Kanika Tekriwal CEO & Founder, JetSetGo, also confirms that the company is receiving a query after every alternate day for Goa and other places which are safe and don’t have too many cases. “A lot of queries are also received from people who want to travel internationally, which at the moment, due to the restrictions, is not a possibility,” she says, adding that many are trying to get to places which are safe, to kickstart their much-awaited annual holiday.

Tekriwal says that apart from Goa, they are receiving requests for destinations in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, while internationally, requests for Dubai, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand have been registered. The Delhi-based plane-aggregator and charter company, also called ‘Uber of the skies’, claim they are getting around 20 requests a day, out of which, 70% are from first-time customers.

Wadhwa says that the trend is catching up and they are receiving more and more enquiries from newer segments of customers, beyond business travel. Today, the typical Book My Charters customer is above the age of 50 and looking to travel to a vacation home within India or to visit family. Some wish to travel with pets, says a company spokesperson.
28/07/20 Divya A/Indian Express
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