July 16, 2011, Patna: Chartering an aircraft is an expensive affair, unheard of in Bihar till recently. With the concept of air ambulance in vogue now, many patients of the state are being flown in charter planes to metros for treatment.
According to official figures, as many as 165 charter flights operated out of the city's Jayaprakash Narayan International Airport from January to June this year. That is, almost one flight on an average every day. The number of such planes flying in and out of Patna during the same period last year was 122.
"Of the 165 charter flights till June this year, 150 and odd were air ambulances. Only 1% of these flights were used for flying business and corporate honchos," an airport official said.
Ten chartered aircraft took off from Patna in June, 30 in May, 34 in April, 41 in March, 26 in February and 24 in January this year.
A total of 832 charter planes took off from Patna in the year 2010. The state went to polls in October and November, and the two months saw politicians flying in and out of Patna in 584 charter planes. The remaining flights operated during the other 10 months of the year. Eighteen such flights landed and took off in January, 14 in February, 19 in March, 16 in April, 24 in May, 31 in June, 30 in July, 40 in August, 27 in September, 395 in October, 189 in November and 29 in December last year.
"Medicare in Bihar has tremendously bettered of late with even super-speciality hospitals coming up in the state capital. But these hospitals are yet to win the confidence of people," Dr Sanjeev Kumar of Magadh Hospital said, explaining the reason behind so many patients of the state spending hefty amount on air ambulances to fly to metros for treatment.
Suresh Prasad, airport manager of a private air service provider, said the patients are mainly taken from Patna to Apollo, Max, AIIMS, Ganga Ram Hospital and Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre in Delhi.
The cost involved is in the range from Rs 3.75 lakh to Rs 5 lakh, depending on the requisition of concomitant services on board like additional doctors, paramedics and medical equipment. Most of the high-end hospitals in metros have their own air ambulances which can be chartered even by making a phone call.