Passengers at Mumbai airport, one of India's international gateways. Demand on the India-UAE sector is making up for the months lost because of the pandemic clampdown on travel. And current ticket rates are soaring. Image Credit: Rex Features

Dubai: Airline rates on UAE-India routes continue to be pricey as pent up demand shows no signs of stabilising any time soon. Plus, there will be the spike from the Expo’s opening in Dubai next week, and with visitors from India expected to make up a sizeable percentage of the initial turnouts at the event.

A near five-month ban on commercial lights created a “lot of backlog,” said a spokesperson for Al Badie Travel Agency. “Several passengers from India were desperately trying to come back, while others had put off their travel plans from the UAE to India due to the ban.”

The travel agent said it will be another week or so for the Expo tourist crowd come pouring in. A flight from New Delhi to Dubai costs between Dh2,000 to Dh3,000, against under Dh1,500 a seat just weeks earlier. Flying in from Mumbai is still relatively easy on the pockets with fares from Dh1,700.

The Kochi-Dubai route has Economy seats from Dh1,500, and those from Calicut are priced around the same. These used to be under Dh1,000 in July.

Meanwhile, fares for flights from UAE to India have still not picked up. A flight from Dubai to New Delhi will cost passengers just Dh340 – the cheapest ticket to Mumbai costs only Dh281.

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A drop off?

According to travel agents, it will require more flights and frequencies to be added on the UAE-India sector before ticket rates stabilise – or drop. Even then, this too could be short-lived as peak holiday season demand approaches by early December. Plus, travel related to the Expo will be a constant factor all the way up to end March next year.

But wherever more flights have been added, rates have stabilised short-term. A travel agent said Sharjah’s Air Arabia was operating close to four flights a day from Kochi and Calicut. “We’ve seen a lot of additional flights come in and those actually pushed down ticket prices.”

One respite

By October 4, there will be a slackening in demand on one count at least. That is when the UK will implement revised rules, whereby travellers from a number of countries arriving in England do not have to self-isolate if they are fully vaccinated. Until now, many of the travellers from India were using UAE as a quarantine stopover destination before heading to the UK.

“We might not have movement from India from travellers looking to quarantine in the UAE - that I think is going to subside,” said the spokesperson for Al Badie.

Will that tell on UAE-India ticket rates? Not much.