In order to beat the ‘red list deadline, India’s super-rich paid lakhs to reach Britain by private jets.

According to a report by Times of India, the website FlightAware shows that eight private jets – which would have cost around Rs 72 lakh upwards to charter – arrived from India at London Luton airport in the 24 hours before the travel restrictions kicked in Friday.

Four of these arrived from Mumbai, three from Delhi and one from Ahmedabad.

The Times of India report also stated that some Indian travellers were unable to get any seats on direct flights last week. A small number of carriers had requested to operate additional flights from India as many travellers, including students, sought to fly to Britain before the updated red list took effect.

A spokesperson for the UK Civil Aviation Authority, told TOI, “We received a number of requests from non-UK airlines to operate charter flights between India and the UK last week. These applications were declined, or withdrawn from the application process, as they were, unfortunately, unable to meet the Indian Government’s qualifying criteria in the time available. The Civil Aviation Authority is happy to consider any future requests, but these must meet the governing and bilateral qualifying criteria.”

The red list COVID-19 travel restrictions came in force for India on Friday, which bans entry for travellers from the country and requires British and Irish nationals and long-term UK residents returning home to undergo a compulsory 10-day hotel quarantine. The ban comes in as Public Health England (PHE) confirmed 55 more cases of the so-called double mutant Indian variant, B.1.617, from all coronavirus cases tracked until April 14, taking the total for the Variant Under Investigation (VUI) in the UK to 132.

Families and students who were able to make it back in time must now self-isolate at their own homes or student accommodation registered on passenger locator forms and take follow up coronavirus tests for the National Health Service (NHS) to continue tracking their results. Anyone arriving from India from Friday must now budget for a 10-day quarantine period at a government-approved hotel quarantine facility and take two follow up PCR tests, adding approximately 2,000 pounds per person to the travel costs. Indian students are the worst hit by this additional requirement as they were preparing to either resume their on-campus studies at UK universities or start a new term next month.