The country’s richest people can’t wait to catch the next chartered flight home
An aeroplane that you don’t have to share with strangers and that will take off at your convenience: Flying in a private jet is like that.
“It’s like having your own car versus using public transport,” said Arjun Thapar, an architect who flew on a private jet that an industrialist had booked from Delhi to Bhubaneswar for a project to design his properties. “You decide when you want to leave, where you want to go, and it’s much like your own car – once you get ready you just get in and go.”
“You are asked your food preferences a day in advance and can get packaged food of your choice,” he said.
When Ahmedabad hosted two matches of the Cricket World Cup in October and November, more than 200 private and chartered passenger jets used its airport. “As many as 75 per cent of the flights were private jets for the India-Pakistan cricket match on October 14,” said Ravi Nandan Sinha, director of development at MSME Business Forum INDIA, at a conclave in Delhi recently.
India’s wealthiest people, called high-net-worth individuals (HNIs) in business parlance, are fueling private and chartered jet travel. The country has 147 private jets, the second such biggest fleet in Asia after China (287), according to Stratos Jet Charters, a US company. (The international private jet charter services market is valued at $12.97 billion and is projected to grow to $21.18 billion by 2026, registering a compound annual growth rate of 10.30 per cent by a separate estimate.)
“We serve quite a wide variety of types of customers, from industrialists that own and manage major corporations, to high-net-worth individuals and their families,” said Jonathan Sumner, chief strategy Officer at JetSetGo, a private aviation company.
“Sometimes we are also privileged to take care of the travel needs of celebrities from sports and entertainment. All are united by one common characteristic – they all have a very high value of time, and travel by private aircraft ensures that time is maximised, and time wasted in getting from point A to point B is minimised,” he said.
A chartered flight for Delhi-Mumbai will cost no less than Rs 10 lakh, depending on the aircraft. “If you are flying in a Turbo jet, say a C-90 or a B-200, which is 5-6 seater, the total cost will be between Rs 10.62 lakh and Rs 12.50 lakh. It will include 18 per cent GST plus handling charges of Rs 1.5 lakh. What the HNIs book is usually the luxury jet, which is normally an 8-9 seater, with an air hostess and two pilots, said Rajesh Singh, director of Blueheights Aviation, a private aviation company.
Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Delhi and Kolkata are among the most frequented routes for charter plane bookings, said Rikant Pittie, co-Founder of EaseMyTrip, an online travel bookings company.
“Private aircraft provide luxury furnishings, plenty of space, individualised attention, and your preferred food and drinks can be ordered ahead of time. It also gives you family time and privacy. With your itinerary being private and confidential, you can hold meetings in flight and make productive use of your time,” said a spokesperson for Bookmycharters, which rents private jets.
“Private jet is all about two things: One is the customer experience and two, we need to make sure there are no operational surprises. We have to ensure that the aircraft departs on time, lands on time. The maintenance of aircraft becomes critical and you simply can’t afford any technical snag,” said Ashish Pradhan, vertical business unit head – travel, transportation, logistics & hospitality at Tech Mahindra, which works with ultra-high-net-worth individuals in private aviation and with original equipment manufacturers.
“So far we only saw the HNI families travelling and there was an element of family wealth and heritage carried forward but today a significant customer base is the professional – the top levels of corporate leadership have increasingly started using private jets.”
Companies use chartered flights to travel anonymously, and access multiple destinations for meetings. “Business travel could include board visits, client meetings, investor visits, site visits or just pampering key customers,” said a spokesperson for Taj Air, which rents flights that cover 110 destinations in India and abroad.
What do the rich pay for private flights? “Pricing for our flights is determined by the length of the trip, in terms of the distance and time flown on the route, and whether the aircraft is required for more than one flight,” said JetSetGo’s Sumner.
“Flights are initially quoted based on the hourly rate for the particular aircraft chosen, and then extras are agreed with each individual client and added to the basic flight cost for the aircraft and crew. For the Hawker fleet and similar, that is typically around Rs 3.75 per flight hour,” he said.
Booking at least two weeks ahead often secures the best charter plane deals. “During peak tourism times, booking even earlier ensures broader options and helps avoid last-minute price increases. Optimize your charter plane costs by exploring memberships or utilizing services like ferry flights for discounted fixed-route options. Compare prices among various aviation companies and online travel agencies for the best value,” said Pittie of EaseMyTrip.
“Charter reservations can be made easily. Just get in touch with a travel agency or visit the websites of charter jet companies. Some companies that offer charter jet services in India include JetSetGo, Air Charter Service, BookMyCharters, Blueheights aviation, Accretion Aviation and Taj Air,” said Abhinandan Jaiswal, an airline pilot who lives in Delhi.
|Price (in Rs)
|Citation CJ2 HYD to AMD (Hyderabad to Ahmedabad)
|6 passengers, 9 lakh + taxes
|B200 DEL-JSA (Delhi to Jaisalmer)
|6 passengers, 6.5 lakh + taxes
|Falcon DEL – MAA (Delhi to Chennai)
|10-seater aircraft, 25 lakh + taxes
|B737 AMD (Ahmedabad to Kolkata)
|45 lakh + taxes
Data Credit: EaseMyTrip