Friday, May 28, 2021

Charter flight mix shifts from 70% domestic and 30% international to 50:50 for both during pandemic

New Delhi: The ongoing catastrophic Covid wave has seen a sharp rise in the number of private jets and charters being handled at Delhi Airport’s separate general aviation (GA) terminal that opened last September. Till the onset of the second wave, it used to handle over 20 flights a day but now this number is almost 50% higher at 35.

The reason: air ambulance movement, suspension of schedule commercial flights by some countries and the super rich preferring the safety and enhanced hygiene of leaving on their own jet plane instead of taking regular flights to places where this option is still available.

This is in sharp contrast to the massive fall in both domestic and international travellers that’s forced Delhi and Mumbai airports to handle all their passengers from one terminal only and mothball the others.

“India’s first exclusive GA terminal for private jets was opened last September. On an average it witnessed daily 35 aircraft movement (ATM) per day during April, 2021, as compared to 24 ATMs daily at the time of opening of the terminal. It saw about 1,000 aircraft movement last month,” said Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) in a statement. The airport operators added its GA terminal has handled over 100 air ambulance flights since last month, “contributing to the surge in demand.”

Rajan Mehra, CEO of Club One Air and former India head of Qatar Airways, said India has seen a significant growth in charter travel from last October 2020. While earlier charter business used to be 70% domestic and 30% international, the restrictions on foreign flights has changed that ratio to 50:50 now.

“The exclusive GA terminals at Delhi and Mumbai (airports) have incentivised several first time travellers to choose (charters). Passengers now want to avoid the crowds of terminal buildings and prefer the spaces available to them in private terminals. The new GA terminal at IGI Airport has been a game changer in these pandemic times.There are no queues, minimum interface with others and a very short distance to cover before they reach the aircraft,” Mehra said.

27/05/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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