Dubai: Bali and Malaysia are emerging as strong contenders for UAE travellers this summer despite flight ticket rates rising to their highest levels in two years. The other key holiday destinations in the mix remain Georgia, Armenia and Maldives.
UAE travellers planning a trip to Europe should, however, be ready to show some patience. European Union countries are proving harder to get to with visa appointments for Schengen visa only available in August next, say travel agents. “Only those who booked months ago are now flying to destinations like Paris and Amsterdam,” said Subair Thekkepurath Valappil of Regal Tours.
Airlines have already ramped up capacity on popular routes to tap this ‘pent up’ travel demand. flydubai is having four weekly flights to the Greek islands of Mykonos and Santorini from June 24 to September 18, with a one-way ticket at a little over Dh2,000.
The budget airline, which will also operate daily flights to Maldives’ Velana International Airport throughout summer, is charging close to Dh2,800 for a one-way trip to the destination in the last week of June. Emirates flights are seen going for Dh4,500-Dh5,000 during the same period.
Etihad Airways has announced a new European destination this summer with flights to Nice starting Wednesday (June 15). Fares are Dh2,000-Dh2,500.
Armenia and Kyrgyzstan travel packages are slightly more expensive at between Dh1,400-Dh2,000 per head.
There are plenty of travel packages to Greece, but the most in-demand options include stays in Athens and one of the island destinations, Santorini or Mykonos. This will cost between Dh3,000-Dh4,000.
Another strong summer run
Even as airlines in UK and Europe struggle to ramp up hiring, the number of airline seats available is close to pre-pandemic levels. “We could hit the 100 million mark towards the middle of July if the current improvements continue,” wrote John Grant, an aviation analyst, in an OAG article. “Although as we know the road to recovery has been bumpy and there will undoubtedly be more twists and turns.
“A quick million in airline (seat) capacity was added back to the schedules this week as China again eased some travel restrictions.”
China’s opening is not the only source of cheer for airlines and passengers. The US, home to some of the busiest air hubs, has done away with PCR testing for international travellers.
The unprecedented travel demand has encouraged airlines to bring back fuel surcharges as oil prices stick to $100 plus a barrel. But the high inflation seen in several economies has sparked concerns about consumers’ ability to continue spending on non-essential travel.
On long-haul flights like Dubai-London, some airlines are levying more than Dh600 as fuel surcharge – which is nearly a third of the actual fare. “The Europe-UAE market has seen demand recover strongly and also has high levels of surcharges,” said OAG in an article. “Similarly, travel between UAE and Singapore, now also permitted for vaccinated travellers, has seen high levels of fuel surcharge.”
Capital Travel, a part of Abu Dhabi’s ADNEC Group, has announced several travel packages, which include return flights, accommodation, transfers, and excursions. Roula Jouny, CEO of Tourism 365, which operates Capital Travel, said booking windows have started to increase as travellers plan their Eid Al Adha and summer vacations ahead of time.
With the ease of travel restrictions and high pent-up travel demand over the past two years, we are seeing improved confidence in holidaymakers looking at attractive travel packages to visit destinations beyond the MENA region.