Inbound fares are higher than outbound fares as this is the peak tourist season for the UAE. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Return airfares to various destinations from the UAE are witnessing an average of 15 to 20 per cent drop in prices, depending on the destination, compared to the peak travel season in December 2022.

Airline executives and travel agents are saying air ticket prices have dropped by 10-15 per cent across the board, and the most significant drop in fares of 20 per cent is seen in the UAE-sub-continent sector.

“Fares have dropped by 20 per cent to Indian cities, for example, compared to the December 2022 prices. Last December, travel demand was extremely high, and one-way fares had shot up to Dh1,500 during the Christmas and New Year holiday season,” said Raheesh Babu, the Chief Operating Officer at Today, return fares to Indian cities on economy cabins are averaging at Dh900. Similarly, prices in European and US sectors have also dropped by 10 to 15 per cent compared to the previous months. Tickets from Dubai to London Heathrow were Dh3,785 in December 2022. Today, they stand at Dh2,695 for departure on February 8 and return on March 8.

According to travel agents, January 15 to March 15 is off-peak travel time for UAE expatriates. However, inbound fares are higher than outbound fares as this is the peak tourist season for the country.

Carriers launch promo fares

Moreover, UAE Etihad Airways and Emirates, and budget carriers flydubai and Air Arabia, have launched attractive deals on airfares for travellers wishing to indulge in a quick getaway post the winter break. The Etihad sale, for example, will run until January 20, 2023, and tickets can be booked for travel between January 18 and June 15, 2023. Airfares to London (Dh,2695), Istanbul (Dh,1695), and Cairo (Dh1,295) make an attractive proposition for travellers.

While Emirates has not officially announced sales on airfares, the airline is offering promotional fares on select destinations, including Mumbai (Dh1,125), Colombo (Dh1,985), Singapore (Dh2,525), and many more.

Promotional fares are being offered on Economy, Business and Premium Economy cabins.

Off-peak season

Afi Ahmed, Managing Director of Smart Travel and Tourism Agency, said: “January 15 to March 15 is the off-peak season for travel in the UAE. Every year, we see a drop in fares. It is nothing out of the ordinary. Many families are caught up with their kids’ final examinations, and it is the end of the financial year for companies, so even corporate travel is out of the question.”

He added: “Fares to the European sector have also dipped, but they will go up after March 15 as schools are closed for the spring holidays.”

That being said, fares to the subcontinent and Philippines are still lower than usual since travel demand to the subcontinent is high from those seeking to change their visit visa status, say travel agents.

“It is true that the fares are low at the moment. However, during this time, air ticket prices to the South Asian sector and the Philippines are usually 30 per cent lower than normal. For example, the average airfare during the off-peak season to India is Dh800 (return). However, prices are at Dh900 to Dh1,100 right now. We suspect this may be due to the demand from those travellers who wish to change their visit visa status,” said Rashid Abbas, Managing Director of Arooha Travels.

Due to this, average airfares to GCC nations, including Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, stood at Dh950 last year. Today, the prices have inched up to Dh1,100.

Demand for UAE-bound tourism remains robust

André Martins, Partner and the Head of the Transportation, Services and Operations Practices for Oliver Wyman in India, the Middle East and Africa, said 2022 was an excellent year for the UAE. “The total number of deployed seats and capacity reached between 80-85 per cent of 2019 levels, which is very strong. And in 2023, we expect the positive trajectory for the UAE to continue.” Martins said the tourism sector in the country is robust, and the event and MICE sectors are performing very well.

“Also, the population continues to grow, which also increases the number of people visiting family and friends,” he said.

January to March 2023 airfares to popular destinations

Economy fares for departure on February 8 and return on March 9, including promotional fares

UAE to India: Dh888 to Dh1,100

UAE to Muscat: Dh510

UAE to Riyadh: Dh1,006

UAE to Doha: Dh761

UAE to London: Dh2,695

UAE to New York: Dh2,013

UAE to Istanbul: Dh1,695

UAE to Cairo: Dh1,295

UAE to Seoul: Dh4,495

UAE to Phuket: Dh2,995