Thursday, February 24, 2022

Why private jet operators have been soaring through the pandemic

While airlines were hit hard by Covid and are still limping back to normalcy, one aviation segment has been thriving ever since the pandemic hit the country: private jets.

Essentially a product of the pandemic when commercial flights were grounded, private jets have managed to retain their popularity even as the pandemic abates.

Those from the segment maintain there was always demand, albeit latent, for private jets in India. The world sat up and took notice of private jets as an option when Chinese families spent $20,000  per seat on a private jet to fly their children back home from the US. What did not come into the limelight was that a family from Guwahati booked a charter from Guwahati to Dubai for $75,000.

The pandemic forced  social distancing everywhere, including air travel when flights resumed, says Anoop Sehan, Chief Executive Officer, IndJets India Private Ltd. “With airlines suspending operations and countries banning regular scheduled commercial flights or restricting them under the so-called Air Bubbles, capacity was greatly reduced. However, those who absolutely needed to travel and had the means to do so, created, or rather greatly enhanced, the market for charter flights.”

Sehan says small  private charters are the most expensive category within the segment, wherein 8-10 people, usually corporates, travel on a single aircraft.

Corporates using private jets is understandable but what emerged during the pandemic was another completely new segment. “During the pandemic we found upper-middle-class people with jobs abroad or families stranded using these to get back to their places of work or family reunions, paying approximately Rs 4-6 lakh per person, depending on where they were headed,” Sehan says.

According to Sabeer Ahluwalia, Co-Founder, Yaqoot Air Charter, before the pandemic, high-end corporates hired  business jets only for business purposes but “during the pandemic they started using such jets for their families also.”

24/02/22 Ashwini Phadnis/Moneycontrol

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