File photo of aircraft at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi | Photo: T. Narayan | Bloomberg
File photo of aircraft at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi | Photo: T. Narayan | Bloomberg
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New Delhi: India’s mounting crisis surrounding a surge in coronavirus infections is prompting wealthy families to flee the country by private jet.

With reports of hospital bed, oxygen and drug shortages sweeping social media, Indians who are able to afford fares running into millions of rupees are booking flights to boltholes in Europe, the Middle East and the Indian Ocean, according to the head of a private jet company.

“It’s not only the ultra rich,” said Rajan Mehra, chief executive officer at New Delhi-based private plane firm Club One Air. “Whoever can afford to take a private jet are taking private jets.”

India reported 352,991 new infections on Monday, the highest daily tally worldwide since the pandemic began. With the country’s health infrastructure creaking under the strain, Bollywood movie superstars were spotted escaping to destinations including the Maldives, while at least three Australian cricketers have quit the Indian Premier League, the sport’s leading club tournament.

Some of the impetus for the wealthy to fly out of India has come from overseas nations taking measures to restrict travel from the South Asian state as the new wave of Covid-19 cases has taken hold.

Canada, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and the U.K. are among more than a dozen places that have imposed curbs, with others poised to announce measures. The Maldives will restrict Indians from visiting all but a handful of resort-only islands from Tuesday, leading to a last-minute rush in departures.

“There was a huge surge to London and Dubai just before the restrictions took place, and the Maldives too before they announced the ban,” said Mehra, who was previously the head of Indian operations at Qatar Airways.

A one-way flight from New Delhi to Dubai costs as much as 1.5 million rupees ($20,000), including ground handling and other fees, though private-jet operators also charge for the return leg if the plane is empty, Mehra said.

The exodus has echoes of last year, when India banned medical evacuation flights amid concern that the super-rich might falsely claim they need treatment in order to jet around the nation during lockdown after the government banned commercial services.

While private fares were already high and haven’t generally been bumped up, the cost of airline tickets has climbed.

Nishant Pitti, co-founder of Easy Trip Planners India, said there’s limited availability to locations such as London following a surge in bookings for “immediate travel.”

One-way economy-class trips to Dubai are going for the equivalent of $1,300, more than 10 times the regular price, according to Mehra.

“That shows how desperately people are trying to get away,” he said.- Bloomberg


Also read: Malaysia bans entry of travellers from India to curb Covid spread


 

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Dont allow these persons to come back who has fled this country during troubles not even showing solidarity by atleast staying in thre country and praying for others. These people has used this country only for milking money

  2. What gururaj, nagesh, vijay say is correct

    Print don!’t you know Indian system of
    Numbers. Learn it first

  3. Death can came where the victim goes. There is an old story.

    One person was walking in the street of his town. He saw the godess of death. He immediately fled the city to another city save himself from death. The godess of death also wondered. “This fellow is supposed to die today in another city. Why is he here?” You can guess the rest of the story.

  4. Those who flee India mother land at the time of crisis must not allowed to come back, this is the time these self tagged super star at the time of crisis to stand by people who made them superstars

  5. Would be interesting to know who the ultra rich are ? Are they the wealth creators or just wealth grabbers ?

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