Dubai: Fares on routes from Dubai to all major Pakistani cities have skyrocketed as expats rush back home for the long Eid break.
The UAE has declared that the Eid Al Adha and Arafat day holidays for ministries and federal entities will be from July 19 to July 22. This translates into a six-day long break and passengers seem to be counting on the fact that return flights from Pakistan to Dubai will become available on July 21 – a date confirmed by Emirates and Etihad.
A flight to Karachi, Pakistan’s most populous city, can set passengers back by Dh4,000 to Dh6,000. Lahore comes in cheaper at around Dh1,300, while Islamabad can cost anywhere between Dh800 to Dh1,500.
The surge in ticket prices could also be attributed to restrictions on foreign airlines operating to Pakistan. PCAA (Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority) has curtailed inbound international flight operations to 20 per cent of the actual summer 2021 schedule up to July 15.
Schedules on booking websites show that Emirates, flydubai, and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways are only operating flights to Karachi at the moment. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) seems to be connecting Dubai and Abu Dhabi to all other major cities.
A potential move by Pakistan to restrict anyone from entering the country without a COVID-19 vaccination certification could be a double whammy for airlines operating the route.
The National Command Operation Center, which oversees the country’s pandemic response, recommended that anyone who does not hold a COVID-19 vaccination certificate should not be allowed to travel by air after August 1.
However, some experts believe it will not have a huge impact on travel demand.
“Travel demand will remain high because it is a free of cost thing and widely available in Pakistan, considering the vaccination programme being introduced by the state,” said Fahad Masood, a Pakistan-based aviation analyst.
Any hopes of a revival in travel will include the resumption of flights from Pakistan to Dubai, which are at the moment suspended amidst a spike in ‘Delta’ variant cases.
“The Pakistani labor class in UAE is willing to travel to Pakistan and back and they constitute a major chunk of the passengers,” said Masood. “It will resume sooner than later”