UAE: Airfares jump 300% for last-minute Eid Al Adha flights, say residents

Shocked to see the ticket prices for the long weekend, expats regret finalising overseas trips too late


SM Ayaz Zakir

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File photo used for illustrative purposes
File photo used for illustrative purposes

Published: Wed 12 Jun 2024, 5:48 PM

Last updated: Wed 12 Jun 2024, 11:21 PM

Thought of travelling for the Eid Al Adha break but yet to book flight tickets? Prepare to pay more than thrice the usual airfare, Khaleej Times has learnt.

When Indian expat Shahbaz Ali booked his family's ticket to Bengaluru a month ago, he paid Dh2,700 per person for a business-class seat. He didn't buy one for himself as he had scheduled meetings on those dates.

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His clients, however, started cancelling their meetings because they were travelling. So, Ali decided to join the family — but when he was about to book a ticket, he was shocked: He would have to pay thrice the price.

"Now, the ticket is Dh8,500 per person. Even for other flights, airfares have soared. I regret not booking my tickets earlier,” said Ali, CEO of Reliance Aluminium and Glass Works.

Another expat, Adel Anarboyev, found himself in the same situation. He first booked a one-way ticket for Dh450 to his hometown Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

But he had to cancel because he thought his cousins in Dubai were staying in for the Eid holidays. "However, now, we have to travel as all my relatives from different parts of the world are coming to our ancestral home to celebrate the festival,” said Anarboyev, who works as electronics distributor at Gargash Electronics Market in Deira.

The cheapest flight ticket he could find for June 15 costs more than Dh800 for a 25-hour journey.

"The fastest option costs more than Dh2,500 for a 13-hour journey with one layover in Turkey. I wish I had not cancelled my tickets,” Anarboyev said.

Why are tickets so expensive?

The sharp spike in airfares was expected, travel experts said, considering that the Eid Al Adha holidays and the start of summer vacation are just days apart.

Many families in the UAE are opting to travel early and for a longer period, the experts said.

“Several residents who planned to travel during the Eid Al Adha break booked their tickets a few months ago. Those who booked their tickets from Dubai to Manila in March and April secured fares for Dh1,500 to Dh2,000. Now, the price from the UAE to Manila starts at Dh2,500 and goes up to Dh5,000 at the beginning of the Eid Al Adha break,” said Geoffrey Salatan, CEO of Geof Travel.

Salatan expects airfares to be expensive even after Eid, as summer travel peaks.

"The airfares from the UAE will remain high, but flights to the UAE may be affordable,” he added.

Only a few slots left

Besides sky-high rates, limited availability is also an issue for last-minute travellers.

"A significant number of expats are heading home, while others are travelling within or outside the country. This surge in travel demand has led to high demand for air travel,” said Mir Waseem Raja, manager at International Travel Services.

Raja is still getting enquiries from residents who wish to take a short trip out of the country during the long weekend.

"However, the availability of seats to Caucasian regions has caused a significant increase in package prices,” said Raja. “Earlier, a package for Georgia, Azerbaijan, and neighbouring countries during the long weekend was available at Dh2,799, but currently, it stands above Dh4,000.”

Three to sevenfold increase

An analysis of airfares conducted by Khaleej Times revealed that there has been a three to sevenfold increase in ticket prices from the UAE to various destinations.

For instance, in February, the airfare from Dubai to Mumbai was as low as Dh350. Now, it's Dh1,300 for a one-way ticket.

Similarly, a one-way ticket from Dubai to London was Dh700 in March. Upon checking tickets for the same route for Eid Al Adha, the price has soared to Dh3,265, reaching as high as Dh8,612.

Where residents are flying to

The highest airfare increases could be seen for trips to the most in-demand destinations, experts said.

“Countries such as Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and many others are seeing notable price hikes due to increased demand during this festive period," said Ramy Badr, sales head of Dopamine Travels.

“The sectors seeing the most significant surge in airfare include the Caucasian region, Russia, among others. Hikes are also seen for many countries in Africa partly due to more favourable weather conditions during this time,” he added.


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