Aviation experts say the cost of hiring an Airbus-320 is about Rs 20 lakh. (Representational image)
A Bhopal-based businessman hired a 180-seater A320 plane of a private carrier to fly just four people - his daughter, her two children and their house help. He is said to have booked the entire flight to ferry his family members to Delhi in an attempt to avoid crowd at the airport and in flight amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The cost of hiring an Airbus-320 is about Rs 20 lakh, according to aviation experts.
This comes at a time when tens of thousands of migrant workers in the country have been badly hit by the stringent lockdown, losing their jobs in cities and struggling to return to their homes thousands of kilometres away. In their desperation to get home, some have walked or cycled long distances in harsh summer heat, with dozens dying from exhaustion or accidents.
The family members of the man, a liquor baron, were stuck in Bhopal since the last two months due to the nationwide lockdown, imposed to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
"The A320 180-seater plane arrived here on May 25 to carry four members of a family, probably due to the coronavirus scare. It was chartered by someone and there was no medical emergency, an airline official was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
Bhopal's Rajabhoj Airport Director Anil Vikram could not be contacted for comments.
Domestic flights resumed in the country this week amid a surge in the coronavirus cases.
All flights within the country, and departing and leaving for abroad, were halted in late March in a bid to stop the spread of the highly contagious virus.
Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said strict rules would include mandatory mask-wearing and thermal screenings, although middle seats on the aircraft would not be kept empty.
(With PTI Inputs)