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Airfares more than double for India sector from UAE.

Summary: Expat families are busy packing for their vacation starting this weekend as schools close.

(Alamy Image)

Expat families are busy packing for their vacation starting this weekend as schools close - except that, this time, they feel pinch of the summer airfare hike.

With less flights and high demand, ticket fares have skyrocketed up to 50 per cent, according to industry experts, who believe that the situation is mainly driven by the Jet Airways shutdown and flydubai's grounding of its Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft.

Jet Airways, which had 11 flights from Abu Dhabi and four from Dubai, ceased its operations in March as the airline hit bankruptcy. flydubai, on the other hand, stopped flying its fleet of 14 Boeing 737 aircraft as a precautionary safety measure.

Jatin Gondalia, senior manager of Holidays Dubai, said consumers were affected as fares soared by up to 50 per cent. "Travellers had to reschedule their vacation plans as Jet Airways stopped its operations and, hence, other airlines had to absorb the regional demand. Currently, a business class ticket per person on Emirates is priced at Dh6,500, which used to be as low as Dh3,500 per person," said Gondalia.

Hemali Shah, managing director of City One Tourism and Travel, said airline prices during the summer season are "more than double for the India sector".

"Even if one checked in January to book for July, fares were very high." Shah said that while airlines fly empty seats off-season, July is the time for them to cash in on the demand and make up for all the losses.

"The expat crowd bears the brunt for such bloated prices, as this is the only time their children get long holidays."

Manvendra Naha Roy, head of online supply at HolidayME, said that given the reduced capacity in the market, average fares are trending to be higher for immediate or weekend travel.

"But if the travellers' schedules are flexible, they can still find fares within an acceptable range," he said.

Residents feel the pinch

Many travellers who spoke to Khaleej Times said they are even opting for indirect flights to get cheaper tickets.

Dubai resident Maansi Jain, who just got back from Mumbai, paid a whopping Dh6,500 for three people for an Indigo flight - the cheapest available then. Usually, a Mumbai ticket would cost around Dh1,200 per person.

Vennila Anand, a Dubai resident, said she paid Dh3,200 for two people on a Dubai-Bangalore Emirates flight.

"We booked our tickets in April. The Dh3,200 fare is, indeed, expensive but I prefer direct flights.

"Prices escalate fast. Even if we booked early, when we checked prices a few hours later, rates had surged by Dh200-Dh300."

Seasonal rush

Emirates operates 172 flights to India every week, serving nine destinations: Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram.

Still, the prices remain high due to the demand.

Commenting on the price hike, an Emirates spokesperson said: "From time to time, we also introduce special prices for specific destinations and post very attractive fares that can be booked all year round."

A flydubai spokesperson, on the other hand, said their pricing strategy "takes into consideration multiple factors, including currency rates, oil prices and supply and demand."

sandhya@khaleejtimes.com

Sandhya D'Mello Journalist. Period. My interests are Economics, Finance and Information Technology. Prior to joining Khaleej Times, I have worked with some leading publications in India, including the Economic Times.

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jul 1, 2019
Words:591
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