UAE's India expats planning last-minute trips back to the home country benefit from the latest drop in ticket rates. But summer travel plans will be a whole lot more expensive. Image Credit: ANI

Dubai: In a surprise development, airfares to India from UAE have actually dropped ahead of this week’s Eid holidays as new flights by Air India Express and GoAir created timely capacities on this exceptionally busy – and lucrative – route.

Economy class fares average Dh735-Dh1,405 depending on the sector until June 20, after which they rise to Dh1,235-Dh2,612 during the peak summer holiday season.

A return Economy ticket to Mumbai for travel between April 19-24 are available for as low as Dh931, down from the February-March average of Dh1,100. Similarly, tickets to New Delhi (for travel on the same dates) are on sale for Dh1,058 compared to the Dh1,350 listed during March.

Even fares on the hyper-busy South India sector, which is usually higher than the rest of the country due to VFR (visit friends and family) demand, are down to Dh1,310 (Dubai to Kochi) if you travel between April 18-24 compared to Dh2,085 a month ago. Similarly, Dubai-Bengaluru rates are down to Dh1,101 compared to Dh1,430 earlier, according to data from travel aggregator SkyScanner.

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Travel agents reckon the drop could be because India’s flag carrier’s low-cost airline Air India Express launched multiple flights from UAE to non-metropolitan cities in India. On March 31, the airline launched its inaugural service on the Indore-Sharjah route.

Earlier that month, the budget airline introduced four weekly direct flights on Goa-Dubai sector, marking the airline’s international operations to Goa. The Sharjah–Indore flight operates thrice a week, and Dubai–Indore operations once weekly.

Similarly, budget carrier Go Air launched a direct Dubai to Kannur in Kerala flight for one-way fares as low as Dh335. Jeh Wadia, Managing Director of GoAir, “Passengers will have the option to explore further connectivity to Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai and Mumbai.” The daily non-stop flight was launched with Al Naboodah Travel and Tourism Agencies.

Tickets from Sharjah to Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Kochi, and Chennai are very much in the affordable range of Dh931-Dh1,640.

Etihad Airways early summer sale too has helped, with an Abu Dhabi to Mumbai Economy return airfares for April 18-24 available for Dh695 compared to Dh1,205 in March.

New route launches

Afi Ahmed, Managing Director of Dubai-based Smart Travels, said: “Go Air and Air India Express have introduced more flights to two-tier cities, causing even rates on the Kerala sector to go down. Those wishing to travel on April 19-20 may have to pay a little more than those on April 18 or after April 20. The fares are down all the way until June 20.”

Last-minute bookings

But other travel agents say the drop could be momentary and primarily because of special offers to drive last-minute travel bookings for Eid Al Fitr holidays. Akash Tolani of Orbis Travel said, “This benefits traveller who wish to take advantage of discounted fares and have the flexibility to book a trip at short notice.”

Moreover, some travel industry sources say many Indian expats have chosen to wait until the summer holidays rather than spend twice. Surendranath Menon, Managing Director of Equator Travels, said, “After a month, schools will close for the summer holidays. Families have plans to travel then, but not right now. I believe that is what is causing the drop in airfares.”

“We have families booking to travel to holiday destinations like Georgia and Azerbaijan during Eid.”