NRI family spends Rs 40 lakh on private jet from Kerala to UAE

Dubai: Amid the surge in COVID-19 cases and suspension of passenger flights from India, an Indian businessman along with his family flew from India to the United Arab Emirates on a non-public jet for Rs 40,34,249 (Dh202,290).

A resident of the United Arab Emirates for almost four decades, PD Syamalan is Managing Director of Al Ras Group. Close family members and four employees flew off from Kochi in the southern Indian state of Kerala and arrived at Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport at 2 pm on Friday.

Ajit Syamalan, CEO of Al Ras group and PD Syamalan’s son, told Gulf News that he had no choice but to board as the entire senior management of their family business got stranded in Kerala. The family traveled to Kochi on April 25 to celebrate the wedding of PD Syamalan’s daughter, Anju.

“My parents had departed from the UAE in the first week of March. My family and I flew to Kerala on April 15 for the wedding,” said Ajit.

The 13-seater private jet carried Ajit, his parents, his in-laws, the newlyweds, and his family, along with his two-year-old daughter. “My parents left the UAE in the first week of March. Ajir said,” My family and I went to Kerala on April 15 for a wedding.

“We decided the wedding a year ago and since Anju’s husband Siva Prasad works in France, postponing the wedding at the last minute would’ve been difficult,” he said.

P.D. Syamalan (fourth from left) and his newly-wed daughter Anju Syam and husband Siva Prasad obtain bouquets from Afi Ahmed upon the arrival of the household in Dubai on Friday. Image Credits: Gulf News

The ban on passengers coming from India has been in force since April 25.

“Our business is run strictly as a family. My mother is a director, my wife is a company CFO, and we play a key role. It was impossible to run this business from India,” he said.

When the possibility of returning on a private jet surfaced, the family approached the Smart Travels Agency, determined to return to the UAE.

“We are not focused on the money we have spent. We are very happy to be back home. My wife, siblings, and I were all born and raised here. We think the UAE is more of our home than India. When it comes to marriage, we had to stay in India,” explained Ajit.

The family will now quarantine at their villa in Sharjah for the next 10 days. “Ten days later, my sister and brother-in-law will return to France,” he added. “We also returned it in time, as a strict lockdown has been announced in Kerala.”

Afi Ahmed, managing director of Smart Travels, the company that organizes the trip, said: “Demand has quadrupled. So far, there have been many flights from Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad in terms of private jets. This is the first flight from Kochi in Kerala.

Afi added: “We are applying to the General Civil Aviation Authority to get the air-pooling system started as the demand is extremely high right now, especially among visit visa holders. Families here in the UAE want to bring their aged parents, and other members given the grave situation in India.”