Terminal 3 at Dubai International airport Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: UAE residents planning a getaway after the Eid Al Fitr holidays can expect fares to major holiday destinations, including European and Indian destinations, to drop by at least 60 to 70 per cent.

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Travel agents told Gulf News that UAE residents are well placed to take advantage of this brief time window to travel at affordable rates before the summer rush and high fares kick in. Airfares are expected to remain stable until mid-June after the summer holidays.

After the steep hike ahead of the Eid Al Fitr break, airfares are starting to show some serious declines on high-traffic routes such as India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and some Eastern European destinations. However, fares to the UK, US, and some Western European destinations remain in the Dh4,000 to Dh6,000 range and go up further during the summer.

Good for last-minute trips

Travel agents say even travellers planning last-minute bookings can take advantage of the rate dips. "After April 15, long-haul routes from the UAE will experience the biggest fare reductions after peak Eid travel demand," said Malou Prado, CEO of Dubai-based MPQ Travel and Tourism.

"Travellers took advantage of their nine-day break during Eid, especially from large tour groups. Some could even plan last-minute trips despite travel costs averaging Dh2,500 to Dh3,000 per person. Many travellers took advantage of the package deals offered by airlines and travel agencies," Malou explained.

On Philippines-UAE routes, return Economy airfares are averaging Dh1,800 to Dh2,610 (depending on the airline), and these rates are expected to continue until the summer. "This is because of VFR (visiting friends and relatives) traffic," she said. However, these fares are expected to shoot up to Dh1,945 to Dh3,630 during the summer.

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Unprecedented demand

According to Mamoun Hmedan, Chief Business Officer at Wego, Eid al Fitr in the UAE witnessed an unprecedented jump in outbound air traffic compared to last year's Eid. Hmedan said Wego observed nearly a four-fold increase in flight searches from the UAE for travel during Eid 2024 compared to Eid 2023.

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Fares to Central Asian and Eastern European destinations will average from Dh493 (Baku) to Dh1,039 (Tsiblisi) and Dh682 (Bucharest) to Dh1,142 (Belgrade). Return flights to Moscow are priced at Dh2,085.

Manila to Dubai airfares will remain at a steady range of Dh1,708 to Dh1,800 until mid-May, compared to the highs of Dh5,000 travellers were forced to pay in Q4-23. The fares are expected to shoot up during the summer.

Economy Class fares (from April 15 to May 15) on the Dubai International to London Heathrow route will remain considerably high at Dh5,990 to Dh3,320.

Return Economy class rates from Dubai to New York will be at Dh4,680, and fares to San Francisco are averaging at Dh6,110 until mid-May. Fares will shoot up further after mid-June.

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Airfares are expected to remain stable until mid-June after the summer holidays.

How long will the low-fare phase last?

UAE residents can pick and choose their way to more budget-friendly rates (to specific destinations) from April 15 onwards and all the way, possibly, to May 15. "There won't be much travel demand from families with school-going children and business travel during this time, bringing about that much-needed respite from high airfares. April is when the new academic year starts at schools, and fares usually hold steady during this time," said Afi Ahmed, Chairman of Smart Travels.

According to Ahmed, the best time for a lower-cost visit to the UAE would be between mid-April to mid-May. "The demand would be from working professionals and individuals who have chosen to plan their trips during this off-peak time."

Capacity boost

Ahead of the busy season, UAE’s leading airlines also boosted network capacities in various sectors. “There was a huge boost in capacity, especially for Etihad Airways, which has stabilized airfares from Zayed International Airport in Abu Dhabi,” said Ahmed.

The airline boosted its network capacities in India by launching new flights to Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram, and Al Qassim in Saudi Arabia. Etihad said it is gearing up for the summer of 2024 by expanding routes and frequencies to 855 destinations, compared to 642 in 2023. Etihad’s Chief Revenue Officer, Arik De, said, “These latest flight increases aligned with our seamless and practical connections at Abu Dhabi and our growing global network offers our guests more opportunities to fly where they want to at a time that suits them.”

Dubai’s flag carrier, Emirates, announced plans to increase operations to several key destinations, including Seoul and Osaka.

Record-breaking year for travel

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is projecting a record-breaking year for travel and tourism in 2024, with the sector's global economic contribution set to reach an all-time high of $11.1 trillion.

According to the global tourism body's 2024 Economic Impact Research (EIR), travel and tourism will contribute an additional $770 billion over its previous record, stamping its authority as a global economic powerhouse, generating one in every 10 dollars worldwide.