Dubai: Demand for private jets on the India-UAE routes has once again seen a boost after the temporary suspension on commercial flights from India.
And as had happened during the repatriation flights last year, private jets are not just being deployed for India’s wealthy. Some business travelers are pooling their resources to charter these jets and make the trip to the UAE.
Oliver Hewson, founder of Jet83 Advisory, expects private jet trips between the two countries to rise as businessmen’s charter flights are exempt from the ban. “It might not appear “fair”, but the typical passenger flying private contribute a huge amount to the economies of the destinations they visit,” he said. “And the success of their businesses affects the employment of thousands of people.”
A charter flight from New Delhi to Dubai can cost around $40,000 while a trip from Mumbai can cost around $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 has seen record monthly traffic volumes, which can be attributed to how well the pandemic has been managed by the UAE authorities
Dubai has been a busy private jet destination through the second-half of 2020 and which has continued even into this year. “There has seen record monthly traffic volumes, which can be attributed to how well the pandemic has been managed by the UAE authorities,” said Hewson. “Combine that with perfect winter weather, our local sector is benefitting from droves of business and leisure ultra-high networth individuals (visiting).”
While Maldives has remained a hotspot for a bit of sun and leisure for over six months, destinations such as Turkey, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania and Hungary are gaining traction in 2021, added Hewson. “Some of the most popular private jet routes in “normal” times would usually include France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and the UK. However, most of Europe has had less business aviation traffic in 2021 due to leisure trips being restricted in many EU states.”
The US, the world’s largest aviation market, has seen its private jet market return to almost pre-COVID-19 traffic levels. “In general, the cities and countries that have lighter or no pandemic-related restrictions are attracting more private jet traffic than those who have limitations in place,” said Hewson.
Dubai-based charter flight operator VistaJet is seeing “very significant” travel from Middle East to destinations in Europe and Southeast Asia, said Thomas Flohr, the Chairman. Dubai, in particular, has emerged as a popular destination for travelers during the pandemic.
Dubai is “the number one city in the world for VistaJet’s international travel,” said Flohr. “We see it more and more as one of our biggest hubs.”
Private gets affordable?
In the past, private jets were associated with CEOs and celebrities. But that’s changing now. “The average business jet of a corporation, if they own it, is only used 250 hours a year,” said Flohr. “We're flying them 1,000 hours per year - what we're doing is driving the price point down to expand the marketplace.”
He likens VistaJet’s second brand ‘XO’ to an ‘Uber’ in the sky that allows seat-sharing. “You can crowdsource your flight and invite other members onto your airplane and hence bring the price down even further,” said Flohr. “If you can significantly improve utilization of the cabin and utilization of the aircraft, you can bring the price point down - making it much more accessible to a wider suite of customers.”