A west India-based company had chartered this 180-seater aircraft. Industry insiders say it may have cost about Rs 10 lakh. The aircraft took off from Delhi at 9.05am as a ferry flight — meaning crew only — on Monday and reached Bhopal at 10.30am. It took off with the four on board at 11.30am and reached Delhi at 12.55pm.
“There are several high net worth individuals (HNI) and companies who are very concerned about flying in a crowd with scores of other passengers during a pandemic. Airlines and charter companies are getting lots of inquiries for chartering planes these days. Since the price of aviation turbine fuel (ATF), the single biggest operating cost for a flight in India, is very low at the moment, airlines and charter companies are able to offer decent rates which the germaphobe HNIs/corporates don’t mind paying for their selves or their loved ones,” an airline official said.
The cost of chartering an A320 is anywhere between Rs4 and Rs 5 lakh an hour (depending on ATF price). So a Delhi-Mumbai-Delhi charter would cost about Rs 16-18 lakh.
While this Bhopal-Delhi flight may have been chartered to ensure that the four fly safe, charter industry insiders say a family of three had hired a wide-body aircraft to fly from Europe to India on May 21 — the day before commercial international flights were stopped in India. That trip is learnt to have cost about Rs 80 lakh, according to industry insiders.
“The cost of chartering a plane depends on whether there is a separate entity hiring for the different legs. So if a company or individual A hires a plane from Delhi to Mumbai and a company or individual B hires the return leg, each will have to bear one leg of the journey. But if someone is hiring in a way that the charter firm/airline has to fly the plane empty one way for picking or after dropping passengers, then the cost of both legs will need to be borne by one person,” said an industry insider.
The demand for chartering flights has seen a rise from such quarters. Bangalore airport says it has handled three private charters from Monday to Wednesday. “Private charters at Bengaluru airport will not be included in the airport capacity cap due to the low number of passengers and hence not having any substantial impact on terminal processing,” said an airport official. Other airports did not give their numbers.
Currently, schedule domestic flights are on average going half full. Different quarantine and testing rules in different states have led to subdued demand from people waiting for fly domestic flights since March 24.