Flying private is often looked down upon in India and is considered a frivolous expense and waste of shareholder's money. However, the scenario is all set to change with the emergence of a slew of charter jet startups which offer a platform wherein you can instantly book a private jet or helicopter anywhere in India, just like hiring a cab using a mobile app.
With India’s domestic aviation sector becoming the world’s fastest-growing aviation market, these private jet aggregators are keen to catch the opportunity and ensure that Indians can fly like never before.
Kanika Tekriwal, CEO and founder of Jet Set Go, feels that besides celebrity flights and Bollywood flights, a lot of high net-worth individuals and corporate houses who fly with 7-8 employees manage to get a lot of work done on the flights. It becomes much easier for them to cover 3-4 cities in a short span, thus not only saving time but also getting lots of work done.
Besides HNIs, there are also tourists who travel for luxury and leisure and want to visit places like Kerala, Varanasi, Agra, Jaisalmer, Simla and Khajuraho. However, that’s not all.
The most important purpose of private jets comes in the rescue missions where trauma victims, accident victims, critical care patients and organ transplant patients are lifted from tier II and tier III cities and brought into Metros for immediate treatment, says Tekriwal, who herself is a cancer survivor.
“I recall the incident about a kid whom we airlifted from Raipur at 1 am, a time when it’s so difficult for anybody to arrange any amount of money in advance, and brought him to Delhi for treatment. As soon as he got better, he came to meet me. He told me, 'I wouldn’t be alive, had it not been for you.'”
It is the words and gestures like these which encourage people like Tekriwal to continue doing what they do. “We’re a changing nation and we’re changing for the better, it’s up to us to convert every adversity into an opportunity, to convert every 'no' into 'yes',” says the 29-year-old entrepreneur.
Tekriwal's Jet Set Go is one of the very few private jet aggregators in India who use technology to link passengers to planes. The startup firm is always referred to as the “Uber of the skies”, though Tekriwal does not particularly like that title. She is, however, open about acknowledging the fact that “it is pretty much what we have done.”
JetSetGo allows customers to view aircraft types and get price estimates of the flights it aggregates. It takes advantage of private jets that return without passengers and sells tickets at highly discounted fares.
Tekriwal launched her firm after realizing that the private jet operators in India were a scattered lot and with about 150 jet operators, it seemed like a highly-fragmented industry. She also learnt that the private jet owners were not particularly happy with their set up and had a lot of problems ranging from pilots not turning up to maintenance issues. Most of them were seeking to fix the problem but were clueless.
Tekriwal's story is a textbook example of how setbacks in life could be converted into opportunities. The young entrepreneur never allowed cancer to become an impediment in her career path. She has also received funding from cricketer Yuvraj Singh’s YouWeCan Ventures.