UAE visit visa extension: Flight booking demand jumps 300% but no spike in airfares, say agents

Many visit visa holders are opting to take an hour-long flight to exit the country instead of going to Oman by bus, according to industry experts

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Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Sat 17 Dec 2022, 3:09 PM

Last updated: Sat 17 Dec 2022, 5:14 PM

Flight bookings to the UAE's neighbouring countries have increased by up to 300 per cent — with all visa change flights running at 90 to 100 per cent capacity, Khaleej Times has learnt.

“There has been a sharp increase in the number of bookings for flights to countries around the UAE since the rules came into effect,” said Praveen Choudhary, managing director at Al Saffron Travel and Tourism LLC.

“Bookings have increased by more than 300 per cent and most of them are running at 90 per cent occupancy, if not fully booked. However, prices have not increased and may have even dropped slightly because several new special visa change flights have been introduced," Praveen told KT on Saturday.

The revised rules — which discontinued the option for visitors to extend their visas within the country — reportedly came into effect on Tuesday. Visit visa holders are now looking at different options to extend their stay in the UAE, including exiting the country by bus or on flights to change their visa status.

Raheesh Babu, chief operating officer of online travel agency Musafir.com, noted that there is a big demand for airport-to-airport visa change.

“We have seen a huge demand for airport-to-airport UAE visa extension, which is more suitable for many customers.” The service package costs Dh1,100, including airfare and UAE tourist visa cost. According to him, most people were opting to book a flight, instead of travelling by bus, because it is more convenient.

Praveen also agreed. “Those going by bus are looking at a full-day trip,” he said. “Some buses depart Dubai as early as 5.30am. Considering all these factors, many opt to go by flight. It is more convenient and takes a much shorter time.”

However, Praveen added that bus trips had some advantages. “The biggest advantage is that those who do not have a visit visa yet can opt to go by bus taking an Oman visa,” he said. “This buys them more time to get a UAE visit visa and re-enter the country. This option is not available for those travelling by flights.”

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Currently, the agency is offering visa-change-by-bus packages from Dh900. “This includes a one-night stay in Oman in a 3-star hotel and a 60-day visa,” he said.

“Flight rates depend on the airlines. Some airlines are offering tickets for as low as Dh590.”

Afi Ahemed from Smart Travel also said that more people prefer flights to buses because these trips usually just take an hour or an hour and a half.

“Add to that the holding time and any time required for visa approvals, the maximum duration for a roundtrip is four or five hours. This is far less than a bus trip to Oman where there are considerably more delays at the border and immigration,” he said.

Visit visa holders who want to extend their stay and have a visa from Dubai can do so from within the country until further notice. Those who have a visa from any other emirate and want to extend their stay on a visit visa must exit the country and apply for a new permit, according to travel agents.

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