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The Good Life

Taking to the skies
If you want to host an office party thousands of feet above the ground or need your aircraft to smell of a favourite fruit, hire a private charter for Rs.150,000 to Rs.600,000 an hour

Anwesha Mitra

Crowded airports, long check-in queues, and the dreaded words, ‘delayed’, ‘departed’  and ‘cancelled’ can now become a thing of the past with private-flight chartering. From businessmen, political and religious leaders to celebrities and even royalty - an increasing number of Indians are now hiring the service. Foresee Aviation, Air One Charter and BookMyCharters offer to zip them across the skies in great comfort.

Headquartered in Delhi, Foresee Aviation boasts of a varied fleet that includes aircraft such as Gulfstream 550, Dassault Falcon, Cessna, Beechcraft Hawker and Bombardier Learjet. Per hour prices vary for each, beginning at 150,000 per hour and going up to 500,000 per hour. Add to that additional expenses such as airport-handling and crew charges.

But this hefty price tag is not without benefits. A luxurious setting, a cabin crew at hand and an entire airplane ready to take you (within reason) wherever you wish to go.

“We offer amenities such as an in-flight entertainment system, and serve you the food of your choice,” says Santosh Kumar Sharma, director and vice president, Foresee Aviation. He believes that, as flight chartering gains popularity, the ‘luxury’ tag will fade away. “Today, it is more of a necessity for corporate houses, foreign tourists and celebrities. Hiring a private plane can take you to the destination of your choice, at the time of your choice, with the people of your choice,” he says.

Air One Charter, too believes in wooing customers with a perfect amalgamation of convenience and comfort. Their core objective, says Shilpa Raj, vice-president - sales, is to promote aviation, tourism, employment and assist in developing new economiccenters.

Their business jets can fly domestic and international routes. Flights can be activated within two hours for domestic locations and within 24 hours for international travel. On board, amenities are plenty. On their Lineage 1000, for example, you can rest in your own bedroom, thousands of feet above regular mortals, complete with queen-sized bed and wardrobe. It can host up to 17 passengers in five cabins and has special dining areas. They also have three independently controlled temperature zones and a cabin altitude that reduces fatigue. You won’t be tech-starved since it also carries a satellite phone, DVD players, CD players and 42" LCD displays. Their Legacy 650 boasts three spacious seating areas with personal screens, with a capacity for 13 passengers.

“Pricing varies from 60,000 to 5,50,000 per hour and includes VVVIP catering, airport permissions and all operational costs. In addition to this hourly charge, we have ground handling (airport handling, take off, landing, parking, lounge and baggage screening), the cost of which varies from airport to airport, crew accommodation, and taxes. So, to give an example, a Delhi-Agra-Delhi journey with same day return, on a Turbo jet would cost between 250,000 and 350,000. On a large Jet, it would be above one million for the journey,” says Raj.

Incorporated in 2012, private jet aggregator BookMyCharters, an initiative of Baron Aviation and Allied Services, believes that time is of essence in this service. It is striving to make booking a jet plane as simple and accessible as booking your next meal. BookMyCharters is India's first online air-charter booking platform that facilitates real-time private jet booking without any human intervention across 22,000 routes.

As Sachit Wadhwa, co-founder, BookMyCharters, puts it, “Pricing a charter is a complex calculation, as a lot of variables and factors have to be considered. Traditionally, this process of cost calculation and sharing a formal quote with the client takes up to 48 hours. BookMyCharters on the other hand, using its patent-pending technology, dynamically calculates and delivers instant quotes in less than 60 seconds.”

They offer turboprop flights that seat six to eight people and have a per hour aircraft rate between 60,000 to 145,000 and have light, medium and heavy jets. The last can seat between eight to 37 people and will set you back by 300,000 to 600,000 per hour.

Amenities include in-flight audio and video entertainment systems, a fully-equipped galley, a real-time viewing of the flight map, SATCOM and private cabins. Be it food from a customer’s favourite restaurant or the perfect fragrance to permeate the cabin -- everything can be arranged. On ground, they deliver hospitality services and meet-and-greet across 150 airports in the country as well as providing lounge access wherever possible.

They also offer ferry flights - empty flights travelling from its base location to the starting location of the journey, or flights returning empty to its base, at discounted rates. “This service has generated great demand,” says Wadhwa.

With such a travel experience available, why wait? The next time you travel, chart your own path. Charter a private jet, sit back and glide through the clouds!

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