Dubai: Airfares on the UAE-India sector have managed to easily absorb the pull out of services by the low-cost airline Go First as it struggles with insolvency issues. If at all rates have seen any firming up, they have been on flights from Dubai to Kochi and Kannur in the southern state of Kerala.
Incidentally, these were routes Go First was active on, which could partly explain the firming up of rates as passengers who had booked with the airline rushed to find alternate arrangements.
“Go First launched the route to Kannur a few months ago, which had considerably reduced fares,” said Afi Ahmed, Managing Director of Smart Travels. “It was popular among travellers who wanted a quick weekend trip back home. With that option gone, prices have gone up.”
Go First was the only airline other than Air India Express to have flights to Kannur, and had been popular because of the convenient departure times.
It was on May 2 that Go First announced the cancellations of the UAE services, though hinting these would be restored shortly. But then concerns about whether the Indian airline had the means to keep operating turned acute and it will be the courts in India that would have the final say on this.
Smooth flying, stable fares
But it’s all stability on fares across other major routes popular with Indian expats in the UAE. Compared to legacy carriers, Go First’s UAE-India and other international operations were limited, travel agents say. Go First operated daily flights from Dubai to Kannur, Mumbai and Delhi, and five flights a week to Kochi.
Husain Iqbal, General Manager – GSA at Sharaf Travel, said, “The likes of Emirates, Etihad, and even LCCs (low-cost carriers) like flydubai and Air Arabia have robust capacities to India.”
But right now, fares are steady. A return Economy ticket to Mumbai between May 19-24 is available for Dh939, down from the March-April average of Dh1,100. Similarly, a flight to New Delhi is available for Dh639 compared to the Dh1,351 listed during March-April.
Still time for Summer rush
Seasonality also plays a crucial role in UAE-India airfares. “The April to early June is off-peak travel time to India for expats. Since the next peak VFR (visit friends and family) travel demand is only for Summer, fares are at an affordable range of Dh650 to Dh1,100,” said Iqbal.
Rates to India had indeed stabilised post the busy Eid Al Fitr period, thanks to several route launches from Air India as part of its broader network alignment of schedules with Air India Express.
“The new Air India flights to Mumbai and Delhi have reduced airfares in these sectors, and even forward bookings look encouraging for the upcoming summer holidays,” said Ahmed.
Dubai-Mumbai fares have fallen from Dh812 to Dh639 on average, and to Delhi have dropped from Dh742 to Dh692.
Travel agents in the UAE say fares to India will be more or less stable until June 15, which is when peak demand all the way through mid-August builds up.