The unpredicted surge in cases of COVID-19 in India has prompted wealthy families to flee the country by private jet.
With reports of shortages of hospital beds and medical oxygen sweeping social media, Indian tycoons can afford millions of rupees, booking flights to safe dens in Europe, the Indian Ocean, and the Middle East. Rajan Mehra, chief executive officer at New Delhi-based private jet firm said, “It’s not only the ultra-rich, Whoever can afford to take a private jet are taking private jets.”
On Monday, April 26, India reported the highest daily case tally globally since the pandemic began, which is 352,991 new infections. As the health infrastructure of the country falling under strain, Bollywood movie stars were spotted escaping to destinations such as the Maldives, and at least three Australian cricketers have quit the Indian Premier League 2021.
The propulsion for the wealthy to fly out of India has come from foreign nations taking measures to restrict travel from the South Asian state as the second wave of Covid-19. UK, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, and more than a dozen states have obtruded restrictions, with others assured to announce measures. From Tuesday, The Maldives will restrict Indians from visiting all but some resort-only islands, leading to a last-minute rush in flights. “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 earlier the head of Indian operations at Qatar Airways. A one-way flight from New Delhi to Dubai costs around 1.5 million rupees ($20,000), including ground handling and other fees. Private-jet operators also charge for the return leg if the plane is empty, he added.
The migration has echoes of last year when India banned medical evacuation flights because of the concern that the super-rich might falsely assert that they need treatment to jet around the country after the government banned commercial services during the lockdown. “There’s limited availability to locations such as London following a surge in bookings for “immediate travel,” said Nishant Pitti, co-founder of Easy Trip Planners India. While according to Mehra, One-way economy-class trips to Dubai are going to cost the equivalent of $1,300, over 10 times the regular fare “That shows how desperately people are trying to get away,” he said.