Dubai: Soaring airfares proving a bother? Then charter a jet.
UAE-based Indian expats are taking to charter flights to fly back as airfares surge on commercial airlines. “There are some charter flights operating to South Indian destinations and they are all full,” said Raheesh Babu, Chief Operating Officer at Musafir.com, a travel portal.
If a commercial flight is charging around Dh2,800 to fly to an Indian destination, then charter will be Dh700-Dh800 cheaper per person. Charter flights to Bengaluru, Kochi, and Mumbai cost between $45,000-$80,000 (Dh165,000-Dh294,000), depending on the type of aircraft.
According to the Musafir.com official, flight capacities on UAE-India air routes are close to pre-pandemic level. “This time everyone wants to go back to their home country because they could not do so the last two years – people also not bothered about the rising Covid cases.”
The executive believes that UAE’s air travel market could be at 80-85 per cent of 2019 levels by the end of this year. Fares, currently up 20-25 per cent across all sectors, will see a dip in September before rising again during peak winter season.
“There are so many events happening in UAE and despite the inflation and fare hikes, people are still travelling,” said Babu. “We thought many would leave the First or Business class seats for Economy due to the higher fares – but that’s not been the case.”
Travellers have become more price-insensitive and that’s the biggest change we have seen in the industry now, compared to 2019, he added.
Armenia, Georgia and Turkey are the most preferred destinations for UAE holiday travel because they are relatively hassle-free when it comes to visa requirements. “We can see that a lot of people have started traveling to the UK and US,” said Babu. “For those looking to go to Europe, getting a Schengen visa appointment is not that easy right now.”
Although airports in UK are facing massive disruptions due to staff shortages, Babu does not see it impacting Dubai flights. “If you look at airlines flying from Dubai to London Gatwick or Heathrow, all flights are running full - and that includes Business and First class.”
If you look at airlines flying from Dubai to London Gatwick or Heathrow, all flights are running full - and that includes Business and First class.
Travellers are also in the mood to visit newer destinations. “A destination like Kenya was sold out and people are already heading in big numbers to Bangkok and Phuket – the two Thai destinations that were closed to tourists until last month,” said Babu. “In Turkey, people are setting their sights on less frequented places like Trabzon instead of Istanbul.
“They may be tired of the usual destinations and want to try out something new.”