A Covid thrust to private jet charters

Ashwini Phadnis New Delhi | Updated on August 28, 2020

Companies seek to tap niche market as people avoid regular flights

The pandemic has given wings to the private jet chartering business, which is seeing increasing demand from high networth individuals (HNIs) and industrialists wary of taking regular flights on domestic and international routes. This has left private jet companies cashing in on the niche market even as airlines are trying to woo back travellers on their regular flights.


The latest to enter the private jet charter market is MakeMyTrip. “With travel restrictions lifted, people are exploring various means to get to where they want, including chartering flights, for business, personal, religious or other reasons,” said Saujanya Shrivastava, COO – Flights Business, MakeMyTrip. The demand for chartered flights has seen a significant jump with people looking for safe and customised travel options as they continue to prioritise social distancing, he added.

However, he said it is difficult to provide numbers as the segment was only launched this month.

Demand up nine-fold

Kanika Tekriwal, CEO and founder, JetSetGo Aviation, said pre-Covid, the company would receive 30-40 requests per day for charter flight bookings. “However, since the time the pandemic entered India, we saw a surprising nine-fold increase in demand and were able to fulfil only 50-60 per cent of the requests, mainly because the regulations kept changing overnight in one country or the other,” she added.

MakeMyTrip is targeting corporates, HNIs and other luxury travel seekers for its charters. JetSetGo, which has been in the business since 2014, says it has a wide clientele, including CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, film production houses, PSUs, sports personalities, and members of the Ferragamo family.

JetSmart (IndJets India Pvt Ltd), which has been in the business since 2016, has lawyers, small and business enterprises and business travellers as clients.

Quarantine rules

Players in the sector think business would have been a lot better had the States not followed different quarantine rules during the pandemic. According to JetSmart CEO Anoop Sehan, uniform quarantine rules across States would have helped in better flight-planning.

According to JetSetGo, at the time of the lockdown in various parts of the world, the company saw a natural drop in requests to approximately 10 to 12 a day to bring home people stuck in various parts of the world.

“As soon as the air travel suspension was lifted domestically, we again started witnessing approximately 20 requests in a day. Out of that, 70 per cent was from new customers,” said Tekriwal, who also pointed out that “as far as business is concerned, we are seeing only 30 to 40 per cent of the business of what we used to get in the pre-Covid period”.

Traditionally, travel by private jets was between metros and also from Tier II cities to Tier I cities for medical purposes. JetSetGo lists Mumbai-Hyderabad, Mumbai-Kolkata, Delhi-Pune, Kolkata-Ahmedabad, Vijaywada-Delhi, Mumbai-Shamshabad, apart from international destinations such as Singapore, London, Male, Dubai, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Dhaka, as routes popular with its customers.

Expensive proposition

Chartering private jets will, however, remain a niche market, considering how expensive it is.

According to Sehan, the rates vary from ₹85,000 to ₹4 lakh or more an hour plus GST. This is not including airport charges.

And, if it’s a one-way trip, you could also end up picking the bill for the aircraft to fly back to its base.

Published on August 27, 2020

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