India’s ultra-rich are paying tens and thousands of dollars to escape the country as it set a new global record for daily coronavirus infections – for the fourth day in a row.
In the last week, India has become the new epicentre of the virus , which has completely overwhelmed the country’s healthcare system and crematoriums and has led to a dire shortage of oxygen.
On Sunday, public health officials reported 349,691 new Covid-19 cases in the country, according to Sky News. They also reported 2,767 deaths, another daily record, as some nations announced they would implement travel restrictions on visitors from India. The alarming numbers are prompting wealthy Indians to pay thousands for last-minute flights and private jets as travel restrictions come into place.
One popular destination seems to be the United Arab Emirates, which is only a short distance away from India and usually operates hundreds of flights there. It announced this week that it was barring the entry of travelers from India for 10 days from April 25, according to Gulf News. A spokesman for charter company Air Charter Service India told AFP that the amount of interest in private jets has been “absolutely crazy.”
“We have 12 flights going to Dubai tomorrow and each flight is completely full,” the spokesman said Friday, according to The Economic Times. Another private jet provider, Enthral Aviation, said it has been overwhelmed by hundreds of inquiries over the last few days. “We have requested more aircraft from abroad to meet the demand … It costs $38,000 to hire a 13-seater jet from Mumbai to Dubai and $31,000 to hire a six-seater aircraft,” an Enthral Aviation spokesperson said, according to The Economic Times.
“People are making groups and arranging to share our jets just to get a seat… We’ve had some queries for Thailand but mostly the demand is for Dubai,” they added.
According to The Sunday Times, at least eight private jets were flown to Britain from India in the last 24 hours as the UK implemented its own travel ban on the country. It is reported that the jets may have cost more than $138,000 (£100,000) to charter for the nine-hour flight.
In New Delhi, which has been hit particularly hard, one person is said to be dying of Covid-19 every four minutes.