UAE airports are awaiting a full-on rush from April's upcoming Eid Al Fitr holiday breaks. As for travelers, they will find trips cost a whole deal more than in Ramadan 2023. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: This is not the time for any last minute travel plans. UAE residents will find that booking airline tickets just ahead of the Eid Al Fitr holidays to popular holiday spots will be 30 per cent pricier compared to last year.

Fares have already increased a hefty 23.8 per cent on flights to the UK, while surging by as much as 60.4 per cent to Germany.

“The Eid al Fitr holidays will witness a jump in outbound air traffic compared to last year,” said Mamoun Hmedan, Chief Business Officer of Wego. “We’ve observed a near four-fold increase in flight searches from the UAE for travel during Eid 2024 compared to Eid 2023.

“We forecast a further heightened interest later as more UAE travelers finalise trips in days leading up to Eid.”

Eid is expected to fall on April 10 (which is a Wednesday), and UAE residents with travel plans anticipate an extended break for the festive season.What will fares be?

Whatever the destination they are heading for, the ticket rates are already on an upswing. For example, return fares on Economy from Dubai to London for travel between April 8 to April 14 are averaging Dh4,800 compared to Dh3,300 on average same time last year.

The cheapest Dubai to Mumbai fares for travel for the same dates this year are Dh2,121, compared to Dh875 a month ago and Dh1,750 last Eid.

Fares to popular short-break choices such as Bangkok (Dh3,044) and Tokyo (Dh7,430) have also surged compared to last year’s Dh1,790 and Dh4,270. The average airfare to the Philippines is Dh3,170 for Eid travel, from as low as Dh 895 in 2023.

Fares to US destinations average Dh4,710 (New York) and Dh6,110 (Chicago). Those to West Coast destinations are among the highest, including Dh6,760 (Los Angeles) and Dh6,860 (San Francisco).

“The good news is that a majority of travelers are planning trips well in advance this year,” said Shanawaz Khan, founder of Trips Away, a travel company that specialises in Europe travel. “We started receiving requests to book air tickets for Eid Al Fitr as early as January end. This is also because the Eid holidays this year are coinciding with schools’ spring break,”

Fare dip in May?

According to Wego officials, travel demand has been consistent since the start of the year. According to the company, international flight bookings from the UAE for travel in February surpassed the same period last year by 70.1 per cent. This follows an extremely busy fourth quarter in 2023, thanks to Dubai hosting mega-events like COP28, Dubai Airshow, and more.

“Business travel has recovered, and leisure travel is at an all-time high,” said Afi Ahmed, Chairman of Smart Travels. “The current peak in fares will remain until the end of April. There will be some relief from the high rates in May and the first few weeks of June.”

Airlines raise seating numbers

To cater to the high demand, airlines have also increased capacities considerably. Global airline capacity in Q2-2024 will surpass that of Q2-2019, according to data provider OAG. “The capacity for Q2-2024 is up about 4 per cent over Q2-2019 for seats on international and domestic flights with about 1.51 billion seats on the schedule compared to 1.45 billion seats,” said OAG’s John Grant.

Middle East airline capacities are up 3.6 per cent from 2019 and have grown 4.2 per cent from last year's 62 million seats. In the second quarter of 2024, capacities are expected to hit 65 billion seats.

UK visas are geting easier 

Officials at VFS Global have said they are witnessing a 15 per cent surge in visa applications in 2023 versus 2022. According to Monaz Billimoria, Regional Head - UAE, VFS Global, “The demand for international travel has grown exponentially in the last two years, with the travel season extending beyond the traditional seasons of summer and winter.

“The difference between peak and trough is not extreme anymore. Demand is consistent throughout the year, and we have a super-peak period during the summer.”

“We have seen a huge surge in our visa applications, especially to the UK, where visa delivery delays have been resolved. During Ramadan, we will offer extended customer touchpoints for UK applicants, operating at extended hours.”

An insight to where UAE residents headed out during Eid 2024

  1. According to dnata, the most popular destinations for holiday bookings over Eid Al Fitr 2024 from the UAE are Maldives, Thailand, Italy, Mauritius and the US.
  2. “Bookings are being made further in advance and to long-haul destinations across Asia and the US,” said Meerah Ketait, Head of Retail and Leisure UAE at dnata Travel.
  3. This year, Italy and the US are trending for the Eid break compared to 2023.
  4. Travellers are heading to Rome and Venice, whilst in the US, stays in New York City and Las Vegas are proving most popular.