Tuesday, April 27, 2021

‘Get Me Out’: Wealthy Flee India’s Covid Crises By Any Means

"Get me out," were the three words messaged to Charles Robinson. Their author was one of many wealthy Indians attempting to flee the country's worsening Covid-19 pandemic by any means.

"This gentleman didn’t mind where to or how and even requested we look into helicopter options to shuttle him across the border where he could then transit through and head elsewhere," says Robinson, the founder of private jet charter company Just Jet.

As India reported a record number of Covid-19 cases over the weekend, those with enough money are rushing to charter jets or helicopters to fly them out of the country.

Many don't mind where they end up, as long as it is somewhere with good healthcare, and preferably a decent vaccination program. At home, hospitals are running out of oxygen to treat Covid-19 patients and vaccine stocks are dangerously low.

But a growing list of countries are now closing their borders to Indians, meaning travel for even the richest Indians is highly restricted.

Robinson was able to find a jet to fly his client to Abu Dhabi, just before the UAE suspended all incoming flights from India on Sunday (25 April).

There was a similar rush to London before the U.K. added India to its ‘Red List', meaning any new arrivals would have to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for ten days.

Pakistan has also closed its border with India. The country is witnessing a rising number of Covid-19 cases, and doctors fear a crisis similar to India's as ventilator and oxygen supplies run low.

"It's not only the ultra rich. Whoever can afford to take a private jet are taking private jets," Rajan Mehra, CEO of New Delhi-based Club One Air, told Bloomberg.

Given the extortionate cost of flying private (a one-way flight from Delhi to Abu Dhabi can cost as much as $20,000), many of the not-quite-so-wealthy Indians are flying to the nearest country that will take them.

27/04/21 Ollie Williams/Forbes

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