Two years ago when Arun Lohiya started Bafna Air, he was battling misconceptions that only city-hopping politicians and rich corporates used charter flights.
Now he caters to Bollywood, professionals and interestingly, medical evacuations: “We fly a lot of patients from far-flung towns into Mumbai and back. In that case, aircrafts are all equipped to deal with the patient’s need and have trained medical staff on board.” While hiring out an aircraft like a helicopter or turboprop might cost you about Rs 80,000 per flying hour, you would have to pay an additional Rs 80,000-one lakh for the crew.
The company also has a private jet that will make you about Rs 1,20,000 lighter, but can travel a maximum distance of 1,800 kilometres in four hours. The helicopters can only travel a maximum of 400 kilometres while the turboprop covers 1,200 kilometres. “The busiest locations are the ones that aren’t covered by commercial flights. Shirdi is a hotspot because you can only access it by helicopter if you want to fly there. We’ve even flown customers from Mumbai to DY Patil stadium and Lonavala,” Lohiya admits.
While you only pay for flying hours, keeping an aircraft overnight will cost you an additional Rs 25,000-40,000 per night, along with crew accomodation. And don’t even think about taking over the wheel. “Insurance policies don’t allow us to let anyone apart from the crew — not even a trained pilot — fly the craft,” he says.