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Airfare Surge During Eid-ul-Adha: A Boon for Airlines, Strain Travelers

Airfare Surge During Eid Ul Adha A Boon For Airlines, A Strain For Travellers

Mangaluru: The precursor to the holiday season in the UAE starts with Eid-ul-Adha celebrations, which also marks summer holidays for schools. This brings in windfall profits to airlines operating from the Middle East to various ports of entry into India, where fares are markedly high, sometimes in the range of 2.5x to 3x the normal fares. If June-end to July sees fare hikes from the Middle East to India, barring a few days in the middle of the week, the reverse fare hike starts in the middle of August when it’s time for expatriates to go back as the summer holiday season ends.

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This Eid-ul-Adha has seen a sharp hike in airfares from the UAE to Mangaluru and all other destinations in India. Even tickets booked almost a month ago have not given any relief, and the weekend fares closer to Eid have shot up to Rs 36,000 to Rs 45,000 one way, barring some weekdays. The fares are also high in the first fortnight of July; thereafter, it goes down to half. The Mangaluru-Dubai fares surge after the second week of August and continue till month-end.

Post-pandemic, the return fare was usually less than Rs 26,000, but now a one-way ticket itself costs 1.5x more than the return fare. However, according to airlines, fares have not been a deterrent to travellers since all flights are going full in the holiday season, and occupancy is more than 80% during non-peak times. Airline sources here indicate that all flights, be it from Dubai, Dammam, Muscat, Doha, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Jeddah, are showing close to full occupancy.

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International flights operating from Mangaluru include two daily flights to Dubai by Air India Express (AIE) and four weekly flights by IndiGo; four weekly flights to Dammam, three weekly flights to Muscat, two weekly flights each to Doha and Bahrain, and one weekly flight each to Kuwait and Jeddah — all by AIE. Though the AED vs exchange rate has gone up by 15% from Rs 19.8 to Rs 22.7 in the last three years, the airline fares have seen almost 100% to 200% increase. Airline sources say it is best to assume that the income levels of expatriates have gone up. Prior to Covid, individuals used to travel alone to the Middle East, but it has changed. We are now seeing families travelling. Surprisingly, we see blue-collar workers also travelling frequently with families, they said.

If one thinks of a one-stop flight via Mumbai or Bengaluru for a low fare, it also does not come cheap. Usually, the one-stop layover routes used to be 30% to 50% cheaper than direct flights from Mangaluru, but not anymore. They are at least costlier by 10% to 15%, defeating the purpose of a longer journey. An airport source said many people are taking one-stop flights even though it is slightly costlier as the flex fares give 35kg or 40kg luggage options than the typical 30kg option, whereas the same flex fare price on another airline gives only 30kg. With AIE all set to increase the frequency of its flights from Mangaluru to Abu Dhabi from July 22 (from 4 flights a week to a daily flight), there may be some respite for travellers.

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