Opinion by Sachit Wadhwa, co-founder, Book My Charters
Needless to say, safety and convenience remain top priorities for travellers in these unprecedented times.
This has led to a significant rise in demand for charter flight services as they eliminate the exposure to large crowds whether at the airport or in the aircraft. There has been a surge of approximately 60 per cent in charter inquiries on our platform largely driven by first-time flyers.
Also, the usage of charters is driven by its utility and not luxury anymore. Another positive news for the industry is that even the conservative rich are embracing the idea of a private charter which has always been an untapped market.
Why charter a flight?
- Charter passengers need to arrive at the airport 30 minutes prior to departure as against flying commercial which requires passengers to report minimum two-hour in advance.
- Passenger travel with those who are known to them, thus reducing the risk significantly.
- Charter flight is a flexible mode of transport.
- Major Indian cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru have a favourable airport infrastructure for private charters. In Mumbai, the passengers arrive at the Corporate Aviation Terminal, which is a dedicated terminal with passenger lounges and boarding area reserved for charter movements only. In Bengaluru, most private jets operate out of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Airport, which is located within the city.
Who is opting for charter services now?
- At present, charters are in demand among passengers above the age of 50
- Passengers who wish to travel with pets on board
- Who has to attend an urgent business at a destination and typically return back to their origin on the same day
- For family reunions at hometown
- Repatriation to their home country
- Those travelling to vacation homes within the country
Charters have also become the preferred choice of travel for its dependability. With airlines operating limited flights in a day to limited routes, and frequent flight cancellations, the passengers with urgent and unavoidable travel requirement prefer private jets over commercial airlines.
We have also noticed that over 70 per cent of the first-time flyers prefer to consult with our charter advisors over a phone call before taking any decision. Online charter platforms such as Book My Charters act as discovery platforms, where visitors can check the types of aircraft available, understand the features in different models and also view an instant price for their itinerary.
While the demand and interest levels of first-time flyers are rising, affordability still remains to be an issue. The last few weeks have seen a rise in demand for services like shared charters, one-way charters, ferry flights and charter-by-the-seat.
There is a rising number of passengers, who are looking to enjoy the perks of private flying while also optimising their cost. We have seen early adoption of shared charters by a group of friends or business associates, who pooled their resources to share a chartered jet. This definitely opens new unexplored avenues in the Indian market.
As far as safety and hygiene are concerned, the private charter operators in India are carefully following all guidelines as directed by the aviation authorities, including sanitisation of the jets before each departure.