Tycoons and Bollywood stars may be among the most high-profile residents fleeing the shores of India on private jets as the coronavirus crisis escalates – but they are by no means the only ones, according to private jet charter company JetSetGo.
The situation in India has become so dire that even upper-middle-class families are pooling their resources to escape, co-founder and CEO Kanika Tekriwal told The Washington City Times’s “Street Signs Asia.”
The South Asian country, which is facing a devastating increase in the virus, registered 412,262 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases to more than 28 million.
“To say that only rich Indians leave India with private planes would be wrong,” Tekriwal said from the Maldives on Thursday.
“What we’ve really seen in the last 10 days is anyone who can bring the resources and the resources together to pool money for a private jet, or pool money to get out of the country, get out.”
Tekriwal said JetSetGo has seen a 900% increase in bookings in recent weeks – with about 70% to 80% coming from the upper middle class, rather than their regular, very wealthy customers. Most of them have flights to the Maldives, which currently offers quarantine at a remote resort for passengers arriving from India, or Dubai, where access for business purposes is possible.
“It’s just people raising money to get out of the country. I think they fear Covid the most because they aren’t the ultra-rich or the most accessible to medical care,” she said.
See crowds of people shopping at a weekly market in Kandivali.
SOPA images | LightRocket | Getty images
JetSetGo has not increased its rates in response to rising demand, Tekriwal said, adding, “That would be opportunistic and wrong.”
But at $ 18,000 to $ 20,000 for an eight-seat jet to the Maldives, or $ 31,000 for a six-seat jet to Dubai, the trip isn’t cheap – even for India’s upper middle class, which costs about $ 15,000 plus each. years.
However, Tekriwal said the situation has gotten so out of hand that in some cases the price of a private jet flight could be less than the cost of hospitalization.
Hospitalization costs about $ 2,500 a night, she said. That’s where hospital rooms go. So even if you have two family members in the hospital for 14 days, you’re looking at double the price of flying to Dubai. ‘
“That’s what most of my clients have told me: ‘We’re fine with spending six months of salary or our savings to flee the country instead of lying in half a hospital bed and not knowing how much we’ll become pay or if we even get a hospital bed.“
Tekriwal added that passengers who test positive for Covid-19 will not be accepted on its regular flights. However, the company does offer a separate domestic and international ambulance service.
Still, a private jet does not guarantee escape from the virus.
Despite enforcing new security measures since March last year – including mandatory testing, regular aircraft decontamination, and no interaction between passengers and crew – Tekriwal said 30% of its staff have continued to test positive for the virus.
“What really hurts me the most is these teams come in, come out, work with people to get them safely from point A to point B. And when they test positive, they take the virus home to their families, for their young children, and for their parents, which is quite troubling, ”she said.