Heavy rush begins for air ticket bokings

DUBAI - Book your air ticket home now or risk paying peak season fares or even missing out, travel agents and airlines warn.

By Zoe Sinclair

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Published: Fri 11 Apr 2008, 9:16 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:48 PM

While it isn't officially summer until May 1, travel agents report they are already flooded with bookings for the popular annual holiday period.

That time of year is nearly here again - when many Dubai residents choose to take their annual leave and often travel home.

The peak season also attracts high airfares as airlines are faced with huge rush of travellers.

Booking early is particularly relevant for low-cost carriers (LCC) and Air Arabia recommends purchasing tickets as early as possible or at least two months ahead.

'Air Arabia's fares are influenced by demand and load factors,' Public Relations Manager Housam Raydan said. 'If you book early you get really good prices but as the dates approach the load factor and demand increases. It's part of keeping the costs low and by offering low-priced tickets, we offer opportunities for people to book early.'

Raydan estimates peak season to fall from the end of May to the end of August with locations such as India, Bahrain and the Levant countries especially popular.

While travellers generally accuse airlines of unreasonably hiking fares, Air India's Dubai and Northern Emirates Regional Manager Jaishree Ramachandran said fare prices were generally reflective of seasonal demand.

'It is the case worldwide. It is not peculiar to the Gulf. There are off-peak and lean times and peak times,' she said.

Ramachandran said the airline's peak season was between mid-June and mid-July, and encouraged passengers to travel off peak.

However, it isn't simply a question of price, but availability.

Alpha Tours Travel and Holidays General Manager Fabian Fernandes said flights returning between mid- to end of August, just before schools reopen, were generally booked seven months ahead.

'Everyone has become accustomed to air fares going up in summer but most of the people take their annual leave then so tickets are paid for by the company,' he said.

'But for availability, there are occasional cancellations and flights free up, so people just have to keep looking,' said Fernandes.

An Emirates spokesperson said the airline often introduced special prices to specific destinations which could be found year round.

Other than fuel price increases, travelling in peak season and the channel of booking influence the fares.

Etihad Airways spokesperson Leo Seaton said that while supply and demand was the main influence on fares, the level of direct and indirect competition and the pricing activities of rival airlines in each market also played a role.

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