Passengers at Dubai International airport. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/GULFNEWS ARCHIVE

Dubai: A lot of UAE expatriates look forward to going home for the holidays, especially around Christmas and New Year. Others are also probably eyeing a short getaway during the upcoming UAE National Day.

However, the cost of air tickets tend to cut into the holiday cheer, as airfares normally go up during peak periods. But not this time around.

UAE residents planning to go on a short break in December or early next year can score some money-saving plane tickets, with airlines cutting some of their regular fares.

Just weeks before the travel rush begins, the country’s carriers have announced they are slashing their prices, in a bid to boost bookings ahead of the holidays.

Budget carrier flydubai is cutting its business class fares by 15 per cent, while Emirates is offering lower prices on both economy and business class seats for flights to more than 20 destinations.

Emirates confirmed on Monday that travellers who make bookings today until November 22 can enjoy affordable fares to holiday hotspots in in the United Kingdom, Italy, Thailand and South Africa, among others.

The airline is now offering economy class tickets to Colombo at Dh1,495, London at Dh 2,665, Seychelles at Dh 2,935 and Cape Town Dh 3,635. For trips to Bangkok, seats can be booked for as low as Dh 2,305, Beirut for Dh 1,065 and Milan starting for Dh 3,005.

The discounted fares are valid for travel until July 31, 2019.

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At flydubai, business class tickets can cost just above Dh2,000 or Dh3,000 per person if they’re booked by November 18, 2018, and they’re valid for travel from November 14, 2018 to January 31, 2019.

“Passengers can now take advantage of the upcoming UAE National Day long weekend and plan a short holiday getaway, or visit family and friends back home,” Emirates said.

Airlines in the UAE and the rest of the Middle East enjoy a 5.3 per cent share in the global travel market, just above Africa. As of 2017, carriers in the region transported 216.1 million passengers, up by 4.6 per cent over 2016.

In terms of the total scheduled passenger kilometres flown, however, Emirates stands out, emerging in the top five global rankings with 311 billion flyers, just behind American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, according to figures released by IATA.