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Private jet services continue their golden run as restrictions continue on commercial flights to several countries. Now, the Pakistan-UAE sector could soon be buzzing with more private jet services. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Private jet operators will be hoping to make the same impact to and from destinations in Pakistan with the latest restrictions being placed on commercial flights from the country.

“Pakistan is pretty much mirroring what's going on in India and that’s very much based on the fact that you have got a lot of wealth from there being based here (in the UAE),” said Holger Ostheimer, Managing Director, DC Aviation Al-Futtaim, a project jet services company.

The UAE has cut commercial flights from the country, alongside Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, while maintaining the curtailment of services from India. Earlier, Pakistan had imposed restrictions on inbound flights.

Rates to fly private

Charter flight rates are expressed in ‘block hours per flight’. The general rule of thumb is about $6,000 per hour. The costs vary based on factors such as flight hours and type of aircraft among others. DC Aviation, which follows a fixed pricing regime, said its prices have remained the same since last year.

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Another wave of demand

Private jet bookings had one of its best runs in 2020 as the wealthy – and those who could pool resources – used this option after commercial flights were taken down following the COVID-19 spread. Now, with the new set of restrictions coming into effect, those who can afford it are again back to travelling on private jets.

Long-haul routes

While there is sustained demand on routes to London and Paris, it’s the Russians and Ukrainians who are flocking to Dubai in large numbers. “During the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen a significant uptick in people from the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) - they either come to Dubai for a stay or continue onto the Maldives,” said Ostheimer.

The Indian Ocean island destination is “clearly the winner of the COVID-19 crisis, that's for sure,” he added.

India routes

A charter flight from New Delhi to Dubai can cost around $40,000 while a trip from Mumbai can be from $35,000. Getting into a private jet service from the south Indian city of Kochi is on the more expensive side, at around $50,000.

“There is a high level of demand… there's an even higher level of inquiries,” said Ostheimer. “But the approval process for flight permits from India to Dubai is quite cumbersome at the moment.”

As a result, there’s a long list waiting to get the green light from aviation regulators. “Every single request will be looked at very thoroughly, and the level of response is not happening at the speed of demand,” said Ostheimer.

The business jet operator’s flights between India and Dubai more than doubled to 230 flights in April 2021 compared to the same period in 2019. Delhi made up for most of the demand, followed by Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Where is the issue?

The air route between India and Dubai is fairly straightforward - flights briefly pass through the airspaces of Oman and Iran. Even India’s aviation regulators, who a decade ago would take five days to issue a flight permit, have begun approving flights within a day. “The bottleneck right now is those landing permits in Dubai, and that's due to the fact that all those permit requests will be scrutinized, at a much greater level,” said Ostheimer.