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How much will a seat cost? Ban on flights from India could be extended until COVID-19 infection cases drop. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Airline ticket rates to and from India have soared after several countries placed temporary bans on flights after a second wave of COVID-19 infections rose to record levels.

A one-stop flight from New Delhi to Dubai can cost as much as Dh3,200 as per some travel websites – prior to the ban, direct fares used to range between Dh300 to Dh600. Flying from Mumbai to Dubai will cost passengers in the range of Dh1,300 to Dh2,800, and those coming from the South Indian city of Kochi need to pay at least Dh1,300 as against Dh500 or so before the ban.

As of now, the halt on flights from India is for a 10-day period. It is no surprise that indicative ticket rates multiplied overnight after the ban. In April, the Delhi-Dubai sector was the world’s third busiest route with over 140,000 seats, only behind Orlando-San Juan in the US and Moscow Domodedovo-Simferopol.

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Packages in the works

UAE-based travel agencies are working on packages that involve passengers flying to UAE via Nepal or Maldives. “The options are open as the restrictions are only for 10 days - people have not yet started enquiring,” said a spokesperson for Regal Tours.

Regal already has a package in place to take passengers from India to Saudi Arabia. “We do have a package via Bahrain, Nepal or Maldives – we have over 300 ongoing applications,” he said. “If the restriction (on India flights) is extended, then we will use the same package for UAE travel also.”

Via Nepal

Abu Dhabi-based Makto Travel is planning on launching similar schemes in the near future. Although flying from Kathmandu may seem like a good idea, flight connections from Nepal’s capital to UAE are limited and hence passengers may have to shell out more for their flight tickets.

“The availability is an issue, Nepal will not have that many flight options to UAE,” said a spokesperson for the agency. “Direct flights from the country are currently being offered by Air Arabia and flydubai.”

At the moment, fares from Kathmandu to Dubai range from Dh800 to Dh1,040. Another potential transit destination – Maldives – will cost at least Dh1,300.

These travel packages have to be “pocket-friendly,” said the Makto spokesperson. Maldives, being a prime tourist destination for India and UAE travelers, is on the expensive side.

Flight suspensions

Several countries, including UK, Canada, and Australia, have blocked flights from India as the country continues to report a record number of daily infections. Daily cases have gone past the 300,000 mark and industry experts are doubtful that the flight bans will be lifted soon.

Most recently, Kuwait's Directorate-General of Civil Aviation said it had suspended all direct commercial flights coming from India, effective April 24 and until further notice. Prior to that, UAE announced the suspension of all inbound flights for national and international carriers coming from India for a period of 10 days and which can be extended.