Tycoons and Bollywood stars are perhaps one of the most famous residents who fled India’s shores in private jets as the coronavirus crisis escalated. But they’re not the only ones, according to private jet charter company JetSetGo.
The situation in India is so dire that even upper middle-class families gather their resources to escape, co-founder and CEO Kanika Tekriwal told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia”.
The South Asian nation battling the sharp rise of the virus saw 412,262 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of infected more than 28 million.
“It would be wrong to say that only wealthy Indians leave India on a private jet,” Tekriwal said Thursday from the Maldives.
“In the last 10 days, what we’ve really seen is anyone who can gather resources and a way to collect money for private jets or combine money to get out of the country and go out.”
Tekriwal said JetSetGo saw a 900 percent increase in bookings over the past few weeks, with 70 percent to 80 percent coming from the upper middle class rather than ultra-high net worth customers. Most of them fled to the Maldives, where it is currently held in secluded resorts for passengers arriving from India or Dubai, allowing entry for business purposes.
“They’re just people collecting money to leave the country. I think they’re the ones who fear COVID the most because they’re not the ultra-wealthy or the most accessible to healthcare,” she said.
More and more people shop at the weekly market in Kandivali.
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JetSetGo did not increase its rates in response to the increasing demand, Tekriwal added: “That would be opportunistic and inaccurate.”
But at a price of $ 18,000 to $ 20,000 for an eight-seat jet to the Maldives or $ 31,000 for a six-seat jet to Dubai, the journey isn’t cheap even for the upper middle class of India earning around $ 15,000. Plus per year
However, Tekriwal said the situation was out of control.In some cases, the price of a private jet flight could be less than the hospitalization fee.
Hospitalization costs about $ 2,500 per night, she said. “What’s a hospital room like? So even if you have two family members in the hospital for 14 days, you’re looking for twice the price of a plane ticket to Dubai.”
“That’s what most of my customers tell me. ‘We are okay with spending six months’ salaries’ or our savings on fleeing the country instead of in a hospital bed and not knowing how much we will be. Pay or if we’re going to get a hospital bed.“
Tekriwal added that passengers who tested positive for Covid-19 would not be accepted on regular flights, however, the company offers separate domestic and international air ambulance services.
Still, private jets are not guaranteed to survive the virus.
Despite new safety measures being enforced since March, including mandatory tests, regular in-flight sterilization and no interaction between passengers and crew – Tekriwal said 30% of its employees. She continued to test positive for the virus.
“What hurts me the most is that these teams are there, working with people to safely get them from point A to point B, and when they test positive they get the virus. Go home to the family For young children and their parents, which is a bit disturbing, “she said.