MUMBAI/DELHI: With the US set to restrict from May 4 the entry of most non-Americans who are currently in India, one-way fares for flights bound for the western country from cities such as Mumbai and Delhi have shot up. Meanwhile, with restrictions on travel to London and Dubai and no seats left on non-stop flights between India and the US, the scramble for charter flights has begun.
On Saturday afternoon, the cheapest fare available for travel from Delhi to New York on the same day began at Rs 7 lakh, for an Air India flight via Tokyo and onwards to Newark on United Airlines.
“The travel curbs imposed last week by the UK and the UAE have stifled Indian passport holders as they can’t board flights to the US that transits via Dubai and London,’’ said a travel industry insider. Neither can those with American passports fly on the May 2 flight as a negative PCR report is mandatory to fly into the US and the likelihood of getting a test report in 24 hours is slim.
“Indians are now looking at charter flights. A travel company is apparently selling one-way tickets on direct flights from Mumbai to New York for Rs 1.5 lakh. They probably plan to charter an aircraft, but I don’t know whether the operator they have entrusted this job to has managed to procure the requisite permissions to operate the flight,” said a travel industry insider, requesting anonymity.
However, another industry insider said big demand for charters to reach the US was yet to be seen. “Charter companies fly small/medium size airplanes and hardly any of them have permission to fly over the Atlantic Ocean. So, unlike places like Dubai, London and Maldives, the demand for US is mostly restricted to commercial airlines, especially the one’s that go nonstop,” said Rajan Mehra, CEO of Club One Air and former Indian head of Qatar Airways.
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