Monday, May 24, 2021

Private jet demand for UAE-India routes hit after aviation regulator sets tough conditions

Dubai: Private jet demand between UAE and India has taken a big hit after the UAE placed severe restrictions on chartered flights using these services.

It was last week that the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) warned operators selling seats individually on UAE-bound chartered flights from COVID-19 hotspots will be banned from flying in the country. "When business aircraft are used to transport passengers from restricted destinations, they shall not be pooled or sold per seat,” said the regulator in the circular. “Operators hired for pooling or ‘per seat offer’ may be banned from operation in the UAE”

This means that individual passengers will now have to splurge $30,000 to $50,000 to book a whole aircraft, while in the past they could get a seat only for $4,000. This will definitely affect demand for private jets, said the head of an India-based operator, who said her company’s private jet movements fell to a third of levels seen the recent past.

“Earlier, we were getting 20-25 inquiries a day, and we were probably performing four to five flights – now, the queries are 4-5, and we've been doing maybe one flight,” said Kanika Tekriwal, CEO of JetSetGo Aviation.

Although flight operators are responsible for taking passengers from point A to point B, flight tickets are sold by travel agents who often act in their own best interests. “When we get a booking, we don't know if it's a travel agent selling seats - or if it's a family booking through a travel agent,” said Tekriwal. “Ultimately, we are the end operator.”

To follow the latest UAE requirements, JetSetGo is making sure passengers on board a private jet either belong to the same family or company. “We also take a letter in that regards from the passenger confirming the same - there's only so much you can do, people who still want to lie will continue lying,” said Tekriwal.

24/05/21 John Benny/Gulf News

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