Limited seats and surging demand will make travel a whole lot expensive on UAE-India routes next month. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: India's airlines are close to reaching pre-pandemic levels on key international routes, including to the UAE.

The country's flagship carrier, Air India, now owned by Tata Sons, will hit pre-Covid numbers on its UAE flights by end of this month itself, said P. P. Singh, the regional manager.

Some low-cost carriers flying from India have already hit 2019 numbers, which shows that demand is returning faster than what was expected in even the most optimistic forecasts.

Planning to fly out to India next month?
Trips to these cities will cost:

Dubai to Delhi – Dh770 to Dh1,255

Dubai to Mumbai – Dh970 to Dh1,573

Dubai to Ahmedabad – Dh1,030 to Dh1,885

Dubai to Kochi – Dh1,440 to Dh3,665

Dubai to Thiruvananthapuram – Dh803 to Dh2,967

Indicative rates for July 07 travel

In April, Emirates airline said it was seeing a 95 per cent seat factor on its India flights. "The demand is exceeding the current capacity offered," said Adnan Kazim, the carrier’s Chief Commercial Officer.

Airlines have urged the Indian government to increase bilateral foreign flying rights with UAE to meet the seasonal spikes in demand.

“I don't think they ever expected this level of demand in the market all of a sudden,” said a senior source at an Indian airline. “Some bilateral agreements were signed almost 15 years ago and the number of seats and flights available in the market have dramatically increased since."

The high airfare environment has translated to short-term gains for airlines flying between India and UAE. But, it has already come back to bite them. With flights to India costing around Dh2,000-Dh3,000 (one-way) during peak summer months, many UAE residents have set their sights on countries like Armenia and Georgia instead, say travel agents.

Flying from Abu Dhabi?
Flights to these cities will cost:

Abu Dhabi to Bengaluru – Dh1,329 to Dh2,712

Abu Dhabi to Hyderabad – Dh1,153 to Dh3,664

Abu Dhabi to Kolkata – Dh1,209 to Dh1,630

Abu Dhabi to Amritsar – Dh1,229 to Dh1,611

Abu Dhabi to Chennai – Dh979 to Dh1,573

Indicative rates for July 07 travel

No hit on demand

Most industry sources have been surprised by the level of travel demand being seen from India, often perceived by airlines as a highly price-sensitive market. Even a recent surge in Covid cases has not stopped people from going ahead with their travel plans.

“As it stands, there is little or no impact on travel,” said Vinamra Longani, Head of Operations at Sarin & Co, an aviation law firm. “But, as fares continue to remain high and pent-up demand dies down, traffic may fall."

According to aviation data firm OAG, Mumbai-Dubai was the 6th busiest air route in the world in June with more than 200,000 airline seats, right behind Dubai-Riyadh, which saw around 235,000 seats being deployed. The air route between New York and London took the top spot with more than 280,000 seats.

Among domestic routes, Mumbai-Delhi was the 7th busiest in the world with more than 618,000 seats.

Fare for summer

A flight from Dubai to New Delhi will cost between Dh1,000-Dh2,500 one-way in July. But fares are seen coming down to Dh600-Dh700 towards the latter half of next month. By August, a one-way trip to Mumbai will fall between Dh700-Dh800 from July’s Dh1,000 and over.

Passengers will desperately want a fare reduction on the Kochi route where ticket prices are touching Dh3,800 in the first week of July. They are seen coming down to around Dh1,000 later in the month.

Qatar World Cup

Several Gulf airlines, including flydubai and Saudia, will launch daily shuttle flights to Doha during the FIFA World Cup, which is expected to pull in more than 1.2 million football fans to Qatar.

India, known mostly as a cricketing nation, has large numbers of football fans in states such as Kerala, Goa, and West Bengal. “If there are any bilateral agreements signed between India and Qatar, we would be happy to participate as well,” said the Indian airline source