Dubai: UAE residents with plans to travel during Ramadan and Eid need to start confirming the dates – and, more important, make the bookings because airfares are already showing 10-25 per cent increases for March and April.
For instance, a holiday break from UAE to popular Southeast Asian destinations such as Bali (Dh4, 035) and Bangkok (Dh3,895) have risen 10 per cent for a late March trip compared to the same period in 2022. Fares to Manila are at Dh2,728 compared to Dh1,960 in 2019. Similarly, travel to the UK, the US and to popular destinations in Europe are seeing considerable hikes weeks ahead of the start of Eid.
Round-trip tickets in Economy to India are at Dh1,244 to Dh1,490 (for travel from April 20 to April 30) compared to Dh990-Dh1,018 on average same time last year.
Firming up of flight rates during Ramadan and Eid are common each year, but this year, it does seem that what travelers will be shelling out would be considerably higher than during the pre-pandemic year or 2019. Plus, this year, there will also be the school breaks, and which too would add to the demand on busy routes.
“Given the pent-up demand in the market, it looks like prices will only increase closer to the Eid holiday dates,” said Surendranath Menon, Director of Equator Travels. “Last year, many still hesitated to travel due to COVID-19-triggered restrictions. This year, no such issues exist.
“Moreover, a long Eid weekend of at least five days is expected this time of the year.”
Head early for EU visa processing
Travellers from the UAE are still facing month-long wait times for the Schengen visa. “This means that the European market is yet to open up (in full),” said Menon. “Once that happens, we expect fares might stabilize a bit.” (Demand for travel to Europe and the US has increased considerably, with many travel agents reporting high forward bookings.)
Destinations like Georgia and Azerbaijan, which had become very popular among UAE residents and citizens amid the pandemic, are seeing fares as high as Dh2.025 and Dh1.485.
“Airlines have no incentive to introduce offers on the fares are tickets are selling by default,” said a Dubai-based travel agent.
Niyaz Adiraja, Operations Manager at Smart Travel and Tourism, said, “Most travel demand comes from families. Forward bookings are very high.”
Keep the 21-week formula
According to Skyscanner’s 2023 Savings Generator, the best time to book flights from the UAE is, on average, 21 weeks before the planned departure. The cheapest day of the week to travel from the UAE depends on your chosen route and the month you depart.
For example, the average rate for a flight between Dubai and Mumbai in September is Dh955 (one-way, subject to change). “However, our data revealed the best time to book this route is 20 weeks ahead of departure, where travelers save up to Dh249 if they also travelled on a Saturday (the cheapest day),” according to Skyscanner.
The booking aggregator also recommends that travelers search for flights early, ahead of peak booking periods. With fluctuating ticket prices, set up a Price Alert and this way ensure to be among the first to see when prices drop with any additional discounts, or if new flights are added on established routes.
Ayoub El Mamoun, a Skyscanner Travel Expert, said, “We’re seeing demand for holidays is extremely high, and bookings in the first week in January exceeded the volume during the corresponding week in 2019 by over a third.”
Indicative airfares to popular destinations from the UAE in the second-half of April:
- Dubai to Mumbai: Dh1,244
- Dubai to Singapore: Dh3,145
- Dubai to Manila: Dh2,728
- Dubai to Zurich: Dh4,055
- Abu Dhabi to London: Dh 3,775
- Abu Dhabi to Rome: Dh 4,507
- Dubai to New York: Dh 5,165