Stock Dubai airport passengers
Once the rush to return before schools reopen later this month subsides, airline ticket rates from India to the UAE should be in for some dip. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Indian expats should wait a couple of weeks to book their return flights to the UAE with rates expected to soften once the initial rush in demand stabilises. It was last week that the UAE allowed flights from India to resume, and which then led to overnight increases in ticket charges.

Economy class tickets to fly from New Delhi or Mumbai cost between Dh900 to Dh1,500 – levels typically seen during the peak end-of-year season. These should come down to Dh500-Dh700 by early September as demand normalizes on these routes. Flights from Dubai to Thiruvananthapuram can cost passengers over Dh450. Meanwhile, fares to Bengaluru are seen starting from Dh282.

“Students and parents will come back at least a week before schools reopen in Dubai,” said a spokesperson for Rayna Tours and Travels. Ultimately, “a return to normal fares will depend on the market scenario and COVID-19 cases [in India].”

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Vaccination move

Last week, Emirates and other carriers said COVID-19 vaccination certificates were no longer a requirement for entry into Dubai. This is now convincing residents to take a quick trip back home.

Flights from Dubai to New Delhi will cost passengers between Dh300 to Dh400. One-way tickets to Mumbai cost Dh400 to Dh700 and Kochi fares a little over Dh400, while those from Dubai to Thiruvananthapuram are over Dh450. Meanwhile, fares to Bengaluru start from Dh282.

Return of tourists

UAE - which allowed conditional re-entry for residents from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Nigeria, and Uganda - was expecting 650,000 passengers from all six countries, said an airline industry source. Once the expats make their return, the next phase of opening up will be about tourists from these countries can make a trip.

Local travel and tourism industry sources expect visitors to be allowed by mid-September. This, however, has not been confirmed by the authorities.

Meantime, airlines are increasing frequencies on the Dubai route. Delhi is the top route from Dubai with 61 flights a week, followed by Bahrain with 58 and Amman’s 55 flights, according to Flightradar24. Abu Dhabi is seeing more flights being operated to and from Cairo, Amman and London.

More certainty

With most airports in India and Pakistan now hosting on-site rapid PCR test facilities, travellers are no longer facing last-minute flight cancellations. When UAE allowed the conditional return of expats from India, Pakistan and a handful of other countries earlier this month, one landing requirement was a rapid PCR test taken four hours prior to departure.

Since then, airports and airlines have been working towards meeting this requirement, especially after several flights were cancelled and passengers left stranded.

Travel rules

According to flydubai’s latest update, the carriage of UAE residents (holding valid Dubai-issued visas) to Dubai from the following airports in India will be permitted subject to meeting certain conditions: Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Lucknow, Mumbai, and Thiruvanthapuram.

They will only be granted permission to enter Dubai if they can comply with the following conditions:

• They must have a valid GDRFA approval to return to Dubai.

• They must be able to present a printed copy of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result (displaying a QR code) in English or Arabic from a test taken in the country of departure by an approved health service no more than 48 hours prior to the departure of their inbound flight to Dubai.

• They must undergo a rapid PCR, RT PCR, ID NOW or molecular test for detection of nucleic acid for SARS COV2 four hours before boarding the aircraft in their country of departure.

• They must undergo a PCR test on arrival in Dubai.