Delhi Airport
Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Indian expats planning their Diwali trip from the UAE must book their tickets before September 28 to get their hands on the best deals.

When travelling between October 20 and October 30, a return ticket (economy class) on the Dubai-Bengaluru route costs around Dh1,600. Flights to Mumbai and Chennai from Dubai hover at approximately Dh1,400 for the same period. Meanwhile, round trips to Delhi and Amritsar are priced slightly higher at around Dh1,700.

UAE-based travel agents say these prices could shoot up to 30 per cent during the first week of October. “UAE expats usually book their flights 10 days ahead of the travel date,” said Godfrey Lopez of Dubai-based Uranus Travels. “Because of this trend, prices usually start increasing 15 to 20 days before the peak travel dates.”

Since this is the first Diwali with minimal COVID-19 restrictions, Lopez reckons the airfares on these routes can go up to 40 per cent as we approach the second week of October. One-way fares on these routes currently cost between Dh800 and Dh900.

Affordable fares

Airfares on the Abu Dhabi-Bengaluru route are currently priced at around Dh1,300 for the next 10 days. An economy ticket from Abu Dhabi to Mumbai or Kochi could cost travellers between Dh1,400 and Dh1,500. However, airfares to Delhi are comparatively cheaper at Dh1,400, while flights from Abu Dhabi to Chennai could cost between Dh1,700 and Dh2,000.

Indian travelers looking to commute to the airport would benefit from shuttle bus services from Dubai’s Ibn Battuta bus station to Abu Dhabi International Airport. Operating from now until the end of the year, the AUH Express shuttle bus will operate 24 hours a day and will cost Dh35 per ride.

Tickets for the shuttle buses can be purchased when boarding the bus in Dubai at Ibn Battuta bus station and at the terminals at Abu Dhabi airport.

From Sharjah, airfares on major routes are relatively affordable, between Dh1,250 and Dh1,450.

“Prices always drop during the first and second week of September, but this time, the trend is different,” said Raheesh Babu of UAE-based online travel agency “Since UAE schools have reopened, the outbound flights from Dubai and Abu Dhabi to Indian cities are low compared to inbound flights.”

According to travel websites, tickets from Dubai and Abu Dhabi to Mumbai (one-way) could cost as low as Dh400. Inbound flights, however, cost much more.

Adding more flights

According to industry sources, Indian airlines are providing ‘additional services’ on the UAE-India route. Since the merger with Tata group, Air India has added two additional flights to the Mumbai-Dubai route, taking the total to three flights.

Tata’s Vistara is expected to start daily operations from Abu Dhabi to Mumbai from October 1. The round-trip all-inclusive fares for Abu Dhabi-Mumbai-Abu Dhabi start at Dh799. This comes after IndiGo launched a daily flight from Mumbai to Ras Al Khaimah. Fares on this route costs as low as Dh625.

Earlier this month, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs, V Muraleedharan, said that the Indian government had taken the initiative to increase the number of flight services in 2021, and would continue the same approach during the upcoming peak travel season. “We will try to increase the number of flight services like last year by collaborating with the airline companies,” he said.

Fuel costs

Oil prices are falling for a fourth consecutive week, and while airlines are most often immediate beneficiaries, the question remains as to whether or not travellers will benefit. Not for the near future, says Godfrey.

Most airlines buy fuel three to six months in advance, so the current market price will not be reflected unless they make a new purchase.

- Godfrey Lopez, Uranus Travels

“Ticket prices might come down by 10 per cent after two or three months, but most likely costs are to stay the same due to inflationary pressures.” He says that the peak travel season will still see airfares soaring above the average level, but during the non-peak period, airfares might drop 12 to 20 per cent compared to the start of this year. “Due to higher flight frequencies and seat availability, there is a high chance of prices coming down in the coming months.”