Forget business class, take a private plane instead

Ashwini Phadnis New Delhi | Updated on January 20, 2018

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To serve the aspirational set, Jetsmart plans to tap idling jets and those flying empty

There’s good news for jet-setting Indians looking beyond the business class but not quite ready to splurge on their own aircraft.

Dubai-based investor Abrar Ahmed’s venture will give them the pleasure of private jet travel at a fraction of the cost.

With over 100 private jets and 150 helicopters in India, Ahmed smelt a business opportunity in capitalising on their downtime as well as return journeys when they usually travel without any passengers. Almost 30 per cent of the private jets and helicopters fly empty after dropping off passengers.

Ahmed has made a substantial investment in Bengaluru-headquartered private air travel venture Jetsmart, which aims to help air charter operators expand their charter and non-scheduled operations.

Targeting high net worth individuals, politicians and celebrities, Jetsmart says it will offer attractive prices that are “competitive with business or first-class fares of any commercial airline”.

Lower distribution costs

The idea is to cut the cost of distribution for charter firms, while marketing 200 operators with DGCA approval.

The company promises to offer connectivity to over 1,200 cities within the country, including Vellore-Mumbai, Kozhikode-Chennai, and Surat-Jaipur.

A one-way seat on an aircraft for a distance of about 1,200 km — or for flying time of two hours — is expected to be about ₹60,000. The company will launch its own app soon.

The business proposition appears to be a win-win for aircraft owners — who need to ensure a certain number of flying hours every month to keep their licences — and for those who wish to travel in comfort and privacy.

Though Jetsmart is unwilling to reveal which of the private aircraft owners are signing up. Reliance, Tatas, Punj Lloyd, DLF, GMR and Jindals are among those that have their own planes.

While Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata and Gautam Singhania own some of the best jets, their companies often have more than one aircraft to ferry senior executives.

“I have been looking at the jet charter space (in India) for some time now. The idea is to get as many private aircraft into the system as possible. Celebrities, politicians and other users not only require the aircraft but also a level of service we strive to provide,” says Ahmad, who is a Partner in Travel Capitalist Ventures.

Published on April 29, 2016

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