Dubai: Expat Indians in the UAE thinking of traveling back to the home country this summer should start making those bookings now, with tickets expected to cost 10-25 per cent more than even 2019 levels.
Airlines are charging around Dh700-Dh900 one-way for Mumbai-Dubai flights. But fares are seen almost quadrupling to about Dh2,600 in June. A flight connecting the South Indian city of Kochi to Dubai costs around Dh1,000 now, but will be Dh1,500 and above starting next month. Those planning to travel Dubai-Delhi will be relieved to know that as of now, rates for mid-June are only from Dh1,200 compared with Dh500-Dh1,000 now.
A one-way flight ticket from New Delhi to Dubai can cost anywhere between Dh500-Dh1,000 right now. Fares on the route are seen going above Dh1,200 in mid-June.
A surge in fuel prices due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict coupled with not enough capacity to meet demand on the UAE-India have led to airfares already firming up quite a bit in recent weeks. Although airlines have announced plans to ramp up capacity on the route – among the world’s busiest – it might be a while before seats available go back to pre-pandemic levels.
“The prices are definitely high because of the crisis, but then the demand has not dropped at all,” said Suraj Ramesh from Al Badie Travel agency. “Fares have increased probably because this is the high season anyway, and looking at the summer, there is enough and more demand.”
Clearly, passengers checking out airlines’ summer schedules to India seem unperturbed. “The rise in airfares has not caused a decrease in travel plans,” said Nishant Pitti, CEO of EaseMyTrip, the online travel platform. “After two years of the pandemic and various travel restrictions, people are now more eager than ever to visit places that they were unable to go to. Travel sentiment continues to be positive.”
Once all restrictions were lifted earlier this year, including India allowing back international flights in full, traffic shot up instantly. Airlines have ramped up capacity, with Dubai-Mumbai already among the busiest in the world in terms of airline seats, according to the latest report from aviation consultancy OAG.
Traditionally, passengers flying between UAE and India have been sensitive to changes in fares. According to Sudheesh TP, General Manager at Deira Travel & Tourist Agency, “The seat supply has not increased proportionately to the demand – so, airlines have an upper hand when it comes to rates.”
Earlier, passengers could beat seasonally high fares by booking months in advance, but that seems to be changing now. “Normally, passengers would get an ‘early bird’ price, but during peak periods airlines reduce the inventory (seats) available in Economy – this is an indirect way of increasing the fares,” said Sudheesh.
Leisure travel is strong
Tourists also represent a big part of the traffic. After the conclusion of the six-month Expo, Indian travelers are now gearing up to attend other events in UAE. “We have been seeing an upward climb as UAE has become one of the prime spots for those who want to visit a family-friendly place,” said Pitti. “With the upcoming IIFA Awards, there are many reasons for travelers to choose UAE for travel.”
DXB’s 2021 numbers
Clocking up 29.1 million in passenger numbers during 2021, the Dubai International (DXB) became the world’s busiest airport in terms of international passenger numbers for an eighth consecutive year. India retained its position as the top destination country for DXB by passenger volumes, with 4.2 million, followed by Pakistan (1.8 million), Saudi Arabia (1.5 million), and the UK (1.2 million).