Revealed: How UAE travellers get cheapest airfares as prices rise

Ticket prices have gone up substantially after the pandemic due to the supply-demand factor

by

Waheed Abbas

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Published: Thu 21 Dec 2023, 1:48 PM

Last updated: Mon 1 Jan 2024, 3:52 PM

Being a global aviation hub, millions of people fly into and out of the UAE’s airports, flying with local and foreign carriers. These passengers use multiple channels to book their tickets – airlines’ websites, third-party portals and brick-and-mortar travel agents.

But when is the best time to buy an air ticket to get the best rate, especially since airfares have gone up substantially after the pandemic due to the supply-demand factor?

The region’s ultra-low-cost airline Wizz Air Abu Dhabi suggests UAE travellers to book three months in advance to get the cheapest rates.

“The trend that we see is that people are finding ways of accessing fares better. I always say to my friends that if you want to have the cheapest flights book three months in advance, so the better you are planning your holidays, business trips, and travel, the better off you'll get,” said Johan Eidhagen, managing director of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi.

The ultra-low-cost national carrier offers special rates, sometimes as low as Dh179 to certain destinations and during special occasions, making it the most affordable carrier in the region.

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Airfares went up due to high demand and low supply amidst the advent of ‘revenge travel’ in the post-pandemic period and high oil prices due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

Unbundle for low airfares

Eidhagen pointed out that ‘unbundling’ is very affordable and passengers don't have to pay for stuff that they don't want, hence, keeping the airfares low.

“Even though we see such strong demand we've been able to keep fares relatively flat. So consumers are not feeling the pressure of increasing fares across the region,” he said, adding that as long as there is more demand than supply, then fares will naturally increase.

“We grew an incredible 150 per cent which means that we were putting quite a lot of capacity into the market and this has kept fares at an extremely low level as compared to most other operators. So we do know that the need for us to keep our costs low to become more efficient so that we can be able to keep fares low,” said Wizz Air Abu Dhabi managing director.

He pointed out that the airline’s load factor has increased to 85 per cent in 2023 and is projected to grow further to plus-90 per cent for next year.

Large Emirati customer base

He pointed out that around 18 per cent of the airline’s customers are UAE citizens.

“We attract all segments. It is not just a wealth question. Everybody has access to low fares, people who are very price-sensitive and are smart in their travel choices, book 3-4 months in advance or even further. Actually, 18 per cent of our customers are UAE nationals. So it is our largest demographic segment of customers. In the beginning, everybody said who is going to fly with you when UAE is one of the highest paid markets in the world. [But now,] people are actually choosing to fly with us because they like savings,” added Eidhagen.

The airline carried 3 million passengers in 2023 as compared to 1.2 million in the previous year, achieving a massive growth of 150 per cent. It added 7 new routes to its network in 2023.

The airline added 300 new employees including cabin crew and pilots in 2023.

150% passenger growth in 2023

The airline operates more than 15,000 flights, carrying 3 million passengers in 2023 as compared to 1.2 million in the previous year, achieving a massive growth of 150 per cent. It added 7 new routes to its network in 2023. It carried more than 1.5 million point-to-point passengers to Abu Dhabi in record-breaking 2023.

The airline doubled its workforce, adding 300 new employees including cabin crew and pilots in 2023.

In 2023, it added four new A321 aircraft, taking the total fleet to 12 aircraft, and increased its seat capacity by 135 per cent to 3.7 million seats on sale.

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