Stock - Dubai airport Terminal 3 A Gate
Which boarding gate are you heading for this weekend? UAE residents are reaching for the skies and getaway destinations in this extended National Day break. And airfares are soaring along with demand. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: UAE residents are paying as much as 25 per cent higher on their airfares for the long National Day weekend compared to a year ago, as the holiday season gets off to a rousing start. Apart from visits to their home countries, sun-kissed Maldives and trending getaway spots in Thailand figure prominently in the choice of travel destinations.

For many residents, staycations at the UAE’s most prominent beach resorts also figure in the mix. “The UAE, Maldives and Thailand are driving the beach break trend for local travellers this UAE National Day,” said Meerah Ketait, Head of Retail and Leisure UAE at dnata Travel.

“International travel continues to witness unprecedented demand.”

That demand explains why airline ticket rates from Dubai have seen this up to 25 per cent gains from a year ago. Airfares from Sharjah and Abu Dhabi are slightly lower compared to Dubai, travel agents add. Even with the FIFA World Cup in Qatar proving such a compelling attention-grabber, it has not stopped UAE residents from going through with their holiday plans, they add.

Several expats also will make trips to emerging destinations such as Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, pulling return airfares up to Dh 2,500, which is unusually high for those countries.

Costs do balance out

Hemali Shah, Managing Director of City One Tourism, said, “We had 150 seats blocked for fixed departure during the UAE National Day holidays. All flight tickets are fully sold out.” The cheapest ticket to Tbilisi for departure on December 1 and returns on five are averaging at Dh2,093 according to travel aggregator SkyScanner.

“Ticket prices usually don’t go above Dh 1,200 to these destinations. Now, they are soaring. The good thing about these places is that only ticket prices to these destinations have gone up - expenses once you land there are very low.

“Due to high demand, we can offer our customers an all-inclusive travel package of Dh2,799. Azerbaijan and Georgia are popular because people want to experience snow. Moreover, these countries have visa-on-arrival for UAE residents, so it is convenient.”

New Year holiday packages are already popular among UAE customers. They are willing to shell out anything between Dh3,000 to Dh5,000 per passenger on a twin-sharing basis. Even budget airlines are expensive

- Munas Moony, CEO of Tourmate Tours

Rates to India skyrocket

As happens every holiday season, airfares to India have once again soared exponentially. Niyas Adiraja, Operations Manager at Smart Travels, said, “From December 1 to 5 and after December 15, airfares to most destinations are very high. Prices show signs of cooling down only after January 1, after which UAE-bound rates shoot up.”

“Airfares to Kerala won’t go less than Dh2,500 right now - off-peak rates were at Dh800. Even to non-popular destinations, like Tiruchirapalli and Visakhapatnam, fares are Dh2,000.”

Since many families are choosing to extend their winter break to January 2, ticket rates all through this month are consistently high to Indian destinations. “Some families think fares are high in the summer and cheaper in winter - that is no longer the case,” added Adiraja.

Flying Economy? Check out these rates:

  1. Dubai to Tbilisi: Dh2,093
  2. Abu Dhabi to Tbilisi: Dh1,486
  3. Dubai to Bangkok: Dh4,958
  4. Dubai to Maldives: Dh3,931
  5. Abu Dhabi to Maldives: Dh1,838